The month-long violence in Kenya’s Tana River District has left a broad wake of destruction and need. Health facilities, inundated by people injured in the conflict, are struggling to cope with insufficient medical supplies, say officials, and tens of thousands remain displaced.
“Our facility is overstretched as a result of the casualties we received from the Tana clashes,” Morris Buni, Malindi District Hospital’s medical superintendent, told IRIN. The hospital is attending to at least 32 critically injured patients who suffered gunshot wounds, cuts, burns and spear injuries.
“We are in urgent need of non-pharmaceutical supplies like gloves, bandages, needle and syringes,” he said, adding that the facility has not been affected by an ongoing nationwide doctors’ strike over pay.
The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) has recently appealed for blood donations to plug a shortage at the Malindi and Coast Provincial hospitals, where most of the survivors are receiving care.
“Our appeal for blood donation has received [a] good response from members of the public and many are turning up to donate blood, which will help those who urgently need it,” Mwanaisha Hamisi, the acting KRCS Coast Province assistant secretary general, told IRIN.
But not all of the injured have been able to access medical care. “There are those with injuries who were never admitted but need medical aid. Nearby hospitals should be equipped so as to help them,” Hamisi added.
Thousands seek refuge
The Tana River clashes, between the pastoralist Orma and the farming Pokomo communities, have killed at least 118 people and displaced thousands others.
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“At least 10,119 persons are in internally displaced persons camps while another 8,560 are being housed by relatives and friends. In Malindi [County], we have another 5,000 people also uprooted from Tana River. The exact figure is hard to tell because these people are always on the move, but it could be around 30,000,” said Hamisi.
“Those living in camps urgently require food and non-food items like blankets. We have received some of these from well-wishers, but we continue to appeal for more.”
Most of the displaced are currently living in temporary camps in the Dide Waride, Witu and Mpeketoni areas with others moving further to the Mamburi, Marerani and Lamu areas. Some families are also seeking refuge in swampy forests along the Tana River shores in the Kau, Kilelangwani, Tizama Lako and Ozi areas where conditions are harsh, according to KRCS.
“As the numbers increase, so does the risk of disease outbreaks, with women and children being most vulnerable,” said KRCS in a statement.
Andrew Mondoh, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Special Programmes , told IRIN that food supplies have been distributed to those affected by the clashes. “As we speak, we have given out soya beans, cooking oil, beef and rice to help those affected by the clashes. In the meantime, we will be exploring ways to provide any help as urgently as it may be required,” he said.
Relative calm has returned to the Tana River region following the deployment of over 1,000 police officers there. Members of parliament had earlier sought to compel the government to send military forces to quell the violence.