Relief hampered by unrest in Kenya

By January 15, 2008

Kenya (MNN) — The Kenyan government has again turned down international efforts to broker a solution to the crisis triggered by disputed elections. Government leaders say there is no need for former UN Chief Kofi Annan to visit Kenya to lead fresh mediation efforts. They claim they won the election.

However, unrest continues throughout the country with no end in sight. More than 600 people have been killed in post-election violence, and more than 250,000 people have been displaced. The violence stems from disputed election results on December 27 which gave Mwai Kibaki the presidency.

Food for the Hungry's Kenya Program Director Shep Owen says the unrest is affecting their work. "We actually can't even go to the office here in Nairobi. Up country, our work is mostly going on, but we have some staff who are trapped in some of the up country locations where some of the fierce ethnic fighting has been taking place."

Owen says homes, businesses and churches have been torched because of their political affiliation.

According to Owen, their personnel have been directly impacted by the violence. "One of our managers particularly had his farm looted and burned, and he had livestock taken, and the man who he had in charge of his farm was injured."

While Food for the Hungry has a lot of work in Kenya, they're focused on helping the displaced people right now. "Here in Nairobi, we've been able to help about 16,000 people with food and non-food items. We've been able to work with a few churches in town and some other (non-governmental organizations)," says Owen.

He says there has been a surprise during all of this, though. "A lot of churches are raising their own funds and doing their own projects. So it's been rather unusual, I think, in this response, but a positive thing, obviously."

As churches help, they're showing Christ's love in word and deed, and it's giving them a platform to share their faith.

Owen is praying that there will be even more international attention because that helps bring justice issues to light. While he's hoping Kenya will calm down, it's won't end the skepticism. "You might have calm here, but as one person here on the radio said, 'You don't have peace, because peace only comes when you have justice.'"

If you'd like to help FHI to continue helping the displaced victims, click here.

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