Caritas responds as Kenya clashes affect 100,000 people

Vatican City, 3 January – Caritas International reports that the political crisis in Kenya has driven over 100,000 people from their homes in search of security. A number of towns are totally cut off, as many major roads are barricaded by various communities who are denying access to road users.

Many of the displaced people are in cathedrals and churches seeking safety, and Caritas is providing them with help. Many others are locked up in their homes with dwindling supplies of food and water.

Caritas says the affected people needed urgent humanitarian assistance such as food, medical help and counselling. Caritas members have pledged $30,000 as an immediate response to the highly affected areas (Eldoret and Bungoma). Meanwhile, further needs assessments are being carried out.

Nik Bretholt, the Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) Humanitarian Coordinator for East Africa in Nairobi, said: "We are extremely concerned by the effect the insecurity is having on the Kenyan people, and anxious that it doesn’t deteriorate any further.

“We need goodwill from local leaders to allow creditable agencies like the Red Cross and the Catholic Church to have access to provide humanitarian relief."

The disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki has unleashed widespread violence across Kenya.

The Catholic Church in Kenya has called for calm between the supporters of Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga and dialogue between the two leaders. The Kenyan Bishops have also urged for the setting up of an electoral commission to review the election results.

Meanwhile, the Church is urging all people to remain calm and restrain from any acts of violence.

President Mwai Kibaki's re-election is being contested by his rival, Raila Odinga, who has publicly refused to accept defeat.

In a press statement, signed by all the bishops and read to the press by the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, Cardinal John Njue, the bishops urged Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga to reach out to one another through dialogue in order to seek a solution to the crisis.

"This country needs peace that is based on justice and true brotherhood," the bishops stressed in their four-page statement, entitled: My Peace I Give You.

The bishops made a passionate appeal to all Kenyans, men and women old and youth, from all the political parties, and from all walks of life, to refrain from violence and from the senseless killing of our brothers and sisters.

"We have witnessed with deep sorrow and concern the outbreak of violence and the breakdown of law and order that has led to numerous deaths, injuries and destruction of property, creating fear and helplessness that has led many to flee from their homes," the bishops said.

Pointing out that several allegations of electoral malpractices have been brought forward, the bishops urged that everything possible should be done in order to investigate and establish the truth.

"We make an appeal to all responsible to seek ways like establishing a commission to audit and specifically review the tallying of parliamentary and presidential polls", the bishops said. They also have offered to act as mediators.

Since Kenyans went to the polls on December 27 and Mwai Kibaki was declared as the winner, massive violence, leading to killings and destruction of properties have taken place in the Lake side city of Kisumu, Eldoret and Nairobi.

For more:
Appeal issued by the Kenya Episcopal Conference

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