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UN Aid Reaches Nairobi Slums Hard Hit By Violence

UN food aid reaches Nairobi slums hit hardest by post-election violence

Tens of thousands of people in the Nairobi slums - some of the largest in Africa - most affected by last week's post-election violence in Kenya began receiving assistance from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today.

Today's distribution, starting in the vast Kibera shantytown and continuing in the three other slums of Mathare, Dandora and Korogocho marks the first time WFP food is being handed out in the slums in a general food distribution.

Distributed by the Kenya Red Cross, the assistance includes cereals provided by the Government of Kenya, and pulses, high energy biscuits, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend given by WFP.

While some 500 families were supposed to receive a one-week ration of food at 12 sites, WFP said thousands had queued up at the sites, which means that a larger number of people would receive smaller amounts of food than the planned ration.

Nairobi's slum dwellers, most of whom depend on casual labour to survive, were not able to work during the unrest that began after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner in the recent election.

Up to 255,000 people have been displaced - and 350 reportedly killed - during the ensuing violence, which took a particularly heavy toll on people in the slums who struggle to survive on less than $1 a day. Almost 60 per cent of Nairobi's population of 2.75 million live in the city's slums.

Also today, a WFP-chartered helicopter flew from Nairobi to the northern Rift Valley town of Eldoret, helping the agency's assessment teams to locate scattered pockets of displaced people in need of humanitarian aid. The helicopter, which flew into Kenya from Sudan, will also fly UN aid in the coming days to people cut off by violence.

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his strong support for former UN chief Kofi Annan's role in mediating between President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, as announced by President John Kufuor of Ghana.

Mr. Ban "sees this as a positive development," his spokesperson, Michele Montas, said today.

Clarifying the UN's role in the disputed parliamentary and presidential elections, Ms. Montas noted that the Organization "did not observe the recent Kenyan elections or the tallying of the votes. Thus, the UN could not have pronounced itself on a matter of which it was not involved and has no facts."

The world body provided technical assistance to the electoral process through the UN Development Programme (UNDP), including helping with voter registration and education, supporting the Kenya Human Rights Commission to ensure that no violations occurred during the campaign, and supporting local media to promote balanced reporting.

"The UN did not participate in election monitoring, and no UN staff observed the elections," Ms. Montas added.


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