Kenya wildlife eat victims of violence

Kenya’s world-famous carnivorous wildlife—big cats and scavenger mammals and birds—may have made off with and devoured the bodies of human victims of recent post-election violence, the Kenyan Red Cross said on Thursday.

“There are also an unspecified number of uncollected bodies due to accessibility difficulties, and it was feared the bodies may have been consumed by animals and birds of prey,” the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) said in a statement.

Aid workers fear that the Kenyan toll could overshoot at least 600 after they confirm the number of bodies in the bush mainly in the country’s Rift Valley province, which hosts more than 80% of the 257 000 displaced. Police said 10 officers were killed in the chaos.

The society said at least 1 300 people had been injured across the East African nation.

“The destruction and loss of property and crops worth millions of shillings have aggravated the situation since many people are affected and lack their means of livelihood,” the statement added.

“The affected communities cannot buy commodities after business premises were completely destroyed. Government peace building efforts are yielding fruit as calm slowly returns in the violence plagued areas,” it added.

The KRCS said it was struggling to install water systems mainly in displaced people’s camps in the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru, Molo, Cherengani and Kericho, where there was “a health threat”.

The society said there was a measles case in Mola, a volatile district where rival sides clashed as late as early on Wednesday.

“The case is under close observation to minimise the risk of cross transmission, which is high in congested and poor immunity areas,” the statement added.

Humanitarian health teams have been conducting “medical camps”, across the Rift Valley region.
“Common ailments that afflict the IDPs [internally displaced persons] include waterborne diseases, respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea,” it added.

“IDPs living with HIV have no access to proper nutrition and antiretroviral treatment (ART). The sick and bedridden are also not accessing medication and food rations,” the statement added, but did not give the number of patients.

In a statement published in newspapers, the health ministry told the HIV/Aids patients to be cautious.

“If you must interrupt your medication, keep a record of the date you stopped so that your clinician will be able to give you the best possible care when resuming ART,” said James Nyikal, the director of medical services.

The government and the United Nations have expressed concern that several women were raped during the chaos and many are still admitted in the capital’s Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

“There are disturbing reports of victimisation of vulnerable groups including sexual abuse of and assault on women and children,” the UN said in a statement.

Much of the fighting occurred in the Rift Valley province, home to a mosaic of tribes, and known as an “Arc of Fire” owing to repeated tribal fighting during electoral periods.

President Mwai Kibaki, visiting the region on Wednesday, pledged to assist the displaced and deliver justice to the perpetrators of the violence in the country.

Foreign governments have intensified diplomatic efforts to keep Kenya from sliding into chaos. The crisis has damaged Kenya’s safe reputation in an unstable region of Africa and hurt economic sectors including tourism and tea.

African Union chief John Kufuor is in the country to talk Kibaki and opposition chief Raila Odinga out of the crisis, spurred by allegations that the president rigged his way to victory in the December 27 polls.

Kufuor, the Ghanaian president, was due to resume talks Thursday for a second attempt after failing to have the feuding sides end the crisis on Wednesday.

The UN says insecurity is choking attempts to deliver supplies to the affected zones in the country, home to 37-million people from over 40 tribes. - AFP

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