Relief agencies in Kenya lack help as they reach out

By February 15, 2008

Kenya (MNN) — While fighting in the streets of Kenya seem to have calmed down, many say the tensions are still smoldering. The racial violence brought on by the flawed presidential election has already claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people.

Speaking from Kenya, Food for the Hungry's Warren Elliott says the arrival of former U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan to broker a peace deal helped. "That really has started to bring more hope to the Kenyan people — just that there was a tension from the outside being drawn to the troubles that this country is facing."

FHI's work is mostly located in the northern part of the country, away from the violence. However, Elliott says they were forced to divert resources from those areas. "Just because we are present in the country, we have been involved in relief efforts with the internally displaced peoples in the Nairobi area. And now we're starting to expand into western Kenya which has also been one of the more hard-hit areas."

Since their other programs continue running unaffected, Elliott says it's been difficult finding staff to help with the relief efforts. He says they're having to be careful about who they ask to help. He says they have to ask some politically incorrect questions like "'What tribe are you from? What language do you speak?' It's their lives that are also going to be possibly jeopardized by bringing this aid in, just by their birth–where they were born in Kenya."

According to reports, there are more than 600,000 internally displaced peoples in Kenya, all running from the ethnic unrest.

Elliott says the church is doing much of the relief work, helping people understand that the answers to Kenya's problems are spiritual. "People are starting to see that the answer is not always in the political regime or even in the economy, which has also been affected. So the church has really been able to step in."

The church hasn't been untouched by this. "Some of these congregations have faced people that they've known for 20 years in their congregation who turned against them because of their tribe."

Pray that FHI will be able to recruit the right people to do this work. Pray also that God would provide the funding needed to help these churches do the work effectively. Click here if you'd like to help finanically.

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