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Humanitarian Chief Repeats Call To Help Displaced

Kenya: UN humanitarian chief repeats call to continue assisting displaced

Wrapping up a three-day mission to Kenya to assess the humanitarian situation following the outbreak of post-election violence, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today reiterated the world body's determination to help those forced to flee their homes by clashes.

"I have met a lot of people in a very sad and tragic psychological state," said John Holmes, who also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. "The stories about what had happened to them and their fears for the future were moving, and that has reinforced the determination that I and my colleagues have to do all we can to help in the situation."

Some 1,000 people have lost their lives and more than 310,000 displaced since last December's elections in which President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga. In addition, some 12,000 Kenyans have fled to neighbouring Uganda.

The Rift Valley, Western and Nyanza provinces and slum areas of Kenya's capital Nairobi have been hardest hit by the unrest.

While visiting displacement camps near Nairobi, the Coordinator heard from internally displaced persons (IDPs) of their concerns about leaving the settlements and moving within Kenya.

The Coordinator underscored that the UN is continuing its support for mediation efforts led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan to find a sustainable solution to the East African nation's political problems. Simultaneously, the world body is providing impartial humanitarian aid to those in need regardless of their political or ethnic affiliations.

In the Tigoni area, Mr. Holmes was able to witness first-hand Kenya's fluid displacement situation. With the subsiding of the violence, many IDPs are returning home, with some 6,000 displaced leaving the Tigoni camp yesterday on buses to return to the Western and Nyanza provinces.

During his visit to the country, he held talks with Mr. Odinga, the opposition leader, and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, during which he appealed for a resolution of the political crisis and called for the voluntary repatriation of IDPs.

"We welcome the calm in the recent days which has created an opportunity for politicians to tackle the problems that are clearly fundamental," the Under-Secretary-General noted. "We hope the violence will stop and we strongly emphasize the need for accountability for those responsible for that violence."


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