600,000 forced to leave their
homes in Kenya crisis - UN
Monday, February 11, 2008
The UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes said today that up to
600,000 people have been forced from their homes in Kenya during
weeks of violence that has killed 1,000 people.
``There are something like 300,000 people displaced in camps ...
(and) beyond those 300,000 there are probably just as many who are
not in camps who have gone back to their homelands ... or are
sheltering with friends and neighbours somewhere else,'' Mr Holmes
The UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs said that
many of the displaced who were classified as living in camps were
staying ``in many cases, simply in police stations or prisons or
churches or other government buildings taken over temporarily as
places of shelter by people forced from their homes.''
Mr Holmes left Kenya today after visiting several camps in the
west of the country, scene of some of the worst violence.
He said the displaced were living in 300 camps nationwide - too
many for aid organisations and the government to be able to upkeep
and provide sufficient help.
He did not say how many camps would be ideal, but added that ``it
would certainly be less than a hundred.''
``Clearly what we all hope is that people will be able to go home
as soon as they can, but it's clear from talking to people, for
many of them, for a vast majority of them, it's not something that
we can contemplate in the near future,'' he said.
Kenya President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga,
who accuses Mr Kibaki of rigging the presidential election, have
been negotiating to find a solution to the political crisis and to
end the violence aided by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
They have come under enormous international pressure to consider
sharing power as a way to resolve the dispute in a country once
seen as a model for economic stability and democracy in Africa.