New efforts to tackle the worsening humanitarian situation in Kenya are to begin soon with a UN shipment of food. The 666 tonnes on trucks from the port of Mombasa will try to tackle shortages caused by post-election violence. President Mwai Kibaki, who won polls the opposition says were rigged, has said he is willing to form a government of national unity to ease the crisis.
Diplomatic moves are being stepped up, with planned mediation by a US envoy and the African Union chairman. More than 350 people have been killed in Kenya and 250,000 made homeless in violence since the 27 December elections.
The UN World Food Programme shipment on 20 trucks should be able to feed 35,000 people for a month. The BBC’s Peter Greste in Mombasa says that after a week of violence, food, fuel and basic commodities are in critically short supply across East Africa. The UN shipment will split its aid between the troubled town of Eldoret and the capital, Nairobi.
Our correspondent says the restoration of truck movements halted by the violence is essential not just for Kenya but the wider region as Kenya is the distribution hub for malnourished countries like Somalia, Sudan, the eastern Congo and Uganda. Next week it is hoped armed escorts can be provided for truck movements. British charity Merlin has warned of a looming health crisis in Kenya. Country director Wubeshet Woldermariam said food and water supplies were “running dangerously low”.
“If peace isn’t restored within the next few days, disease outbreaks and severe dehydration are very real threats.”