KENYA: More people at risk as land clashes persist
A woman at a camp for the internally displaced
NAIROBI, 29 March 2007 (IRIN) - Clashes caused by a dispute over land rights in the western Kenyan district of Mount Elgon have continued, exacerbating the plight of about 45,000 displaced people, the Kenya Red Cross Society
"The population is in dire need of food, shelter, clothing and potable water since most residents have been left extremely vulnerable as their houses and food stocks have been burned and their livestock and livelihood threatened," KRCS said in a statement released on Wednesday.
"Tension has gripped the area as more people continue to live in fear of further attacks. Some residents have requested to be settled in camps since it is becoming increasingly difficult to live with relatives or pay rent," it added.
Violence erupted in the area along Kenya's border with Uganda after a controversial allocation of land by the government to squatters of one ethnic group in Chepyuk area in 2006. A rival group protested, leading to clashes that have left 137 people dead and dozens wounded since December - especially in Tuikut and Kopsiro areas.
Congestion in the areas where the displaced have sought shelter has resulted in competition for scarce water supplies and sanitation facilities, leading to low hygiene standards and health problems, KRCS said.
"The IDPs [internally displaced persons] are likely to fall ill due to diseases such as diarrhoea and others transmitted by the faecal-oral route, and other water and sanitation-related diseases carried by vectors associated with solid waste and water.
"Some, especially pregnant women and children, are suffering from malaria and pneumonia," it added.
To compound the situation, insecurity had also forced some health workers to leave the area, putting considerable stress on medical facilities.
|Some, especially pregnant women and children, are suffering from malaria and pneumonia |
"The food security situation is in a deplorable condition as the IDPs left behind their crops on farmlands. Due to the security operation, the IDPs have not been allowed to harvest their crops, leading to wastage," according to KRCS.
The displaced have sought shelter in market centres or moved in with relatives in Mount Elgon and the neighbouring Bungoma District. Others have moved into churches, schools, mosques and government buildings.
In a bid to cope with the situation, displaced people have resorted to looking for casual employment and begging. Commercial sex has also been on the rise, according to KRCS.Related stories