01 February 2008

Opening remarks at press conference

Ban Ki-moon

[Unofficial transcript] Ladies and gentlemen:

I am here today first to express my solidarity with the Kenyan people. I am extremely concerned and saddened by the level of civil strife yet unabated in this country. It has led to an intolerable level of deaths, destruction, displacement and suffering. This is unacceptable. It has to stop.

The humanitarian crisis we are witnessing is unprecedented in Kenya. Men, women, children, elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people have been uprooted, lost their property, their livelihood and are living in fear. An estimated total of 500,000 people from all walks of life have been affected and the spiral continues.

This has to stop.

This is the appeal I made to His Excellency Mr. Mwai Kibaki when I met him yesterday at the African Union summit and to the Honorable Raila Odinga when we discussed the situation this morning here in Nairobi. I also appealed today to the negotiators whom I met earlier with my predecessor, former Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan.

I also appealed today to members of Kenyan civil society working for peace: The killing must stop, the violence must end for the sake of the Kenyan people, for the sake of Kenya.
This is a message I brought with me from the African leaders I met yesterday at the AU Summit and from all other concerned world leaders as well as the UN Security Council.

The political crisis has evidently unleashed historic grievances which have led to a spiral of violence, displacement, revenge and renewed displacement.

The people and leaders of Kenya, particularly political leaders, have the duty, and the responsibility, to wake up and reverse this tragic path before it escalates into the horrors of mass killings and devastation we have witnessed in recent history. I have come to emphatically reiterate my fullest support to the mediation efforts led by the Chairman of the Panel of Eminent African Persons and Former SG, Kofi Annan, joined by Ms. Gra├ža Machel and former President Benjamin Mkapa. They enjoy unanimous international support and respect.

I am encouraged by the constructive spirit that has prevailed throughout my discussions so far. I call on the Negotiating Teams to persevere and show the courage, vision and leadership to expeditiously find a just and peaceful solution.
I am also here to assess the humanitarian situation and the support provided by the United Nations family to the people of Kenya in this difficult time, and to reaffirm, loud and clear, that this support will continue.

It has not been easy for the people of Kenya. It has not been easy for our country team and the NGOs trying to provide assistance. They have backed the Government of Kenya's response and the rapid intervention by the Kenyan Red Cross Society which has spearheaded the relief efforts, saving lives and alleviating human suffering where-ever it is found.
However, the volatile security situation in the country is making it increasingly difficult for aid agencies to operate. We call on all parties involved in the crisis to spare no effort to ensure the secure and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all people affected.

Over the decades since independence, Kenya has shown itself capable of remarkable things. The Kenyan people have impressed and inspired the world in the stability and the progress they have achieved.

I appeal to all political leaders to look beyond the individual or partisan interests, look at the common interest for the brighter future of all Kenyans.

Today, I have come to appeal to Kenyan leaders to inspire the world yet again, by resolving differences peacefully and resuming the serious work of building a future for all Kenya's children.

I have come to appeal to all Kenyans to end the violence which has wounded and crippled this blessed country. I have come to call on all of you to put Kenya back on its rightful path -- that of one Kenya, united in peace, progress and freedom for all its people.

I call on all Kenyans to think and act as one people, one nation, one Kenya.

You together should move toward a better, a more just and prosperous country. For this journey, I, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, assure all Kenyan people that the UN and the international community will always stand on your side and spare no efforts to help you move forward.