17 January 2008 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 100,000 children have been forced to flee their homes due to the wave of violence that swept through Kenya following last month’s disputed elections.
The agency said that as many as 75,000 children are now residing in over 100 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), while many thousands more children are believed to be living temporarily with other family members.
Almost 600 people have lost their lives and some 255,000 others displaced during the crisis which began after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in the country’s polls late last December.
UNICEF has prioritized the provision of life-saving interventions – including water, sanitation, shelter and nutrition – as well as the protection of children and facilitating their return to school.
In the largest camps in the capital Nairobi and the western towns of Nakuru and Eldoret, the agency has established water and sanitation facilities by providing temporary latrines, water storage tanks, buckets and chlorine. This is expected to help 50,000 people.
Also in Kisumu and Eldoret, UNICEF is sending emergency health supplies to benefit more than 100,000 people.
It is assisting Kenya’s Ministry of Health to operate screening centres in camps to identify and treat malnourished children. An emergency polio and measles vaccination programme, de-worming and vitamin A distribution are also underway.
Despite the re-opening of schools, the agency reported that far fewer pupils are attending. It has set up over 30 classroom tents and supplied school-in-a-box kits.
Recreation supplies to cover 7,000 children in camps in Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret have been dispatched, while UNICEF expects to send more kits to other badly-hit communities.
Child protection poses great challenges, and the agency has partnered with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to create systems to report abuses and identify at-risk children, with priority being given to reuniting families, establishing safe play areas and protecting girls and women from violence.
Approximately 1,500 treatment kits to prevent HIV infection as a result of rape have been dispatched to Eldoret and other areas.
Yesterday, the UN launched a $42 million appeal to supply food, water, shelter and other priority needs to some 500,000 people over the next six months.
The Kenya Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan 2008 includes dozens of projects to be carried out in the coming months to provide key services and supplies which have been identified by 22 aid partners, among them the UN and NGOs, with the participation of the Kenyan Government.
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