Baptist World Aid, the relief-and-development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, is seeking funds to aid Kenyans suffering from violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election Dec. 27.
More than 360 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced, mostly in the western part of the nation and Nairobi’s slums. Aid agencies on Sunday warned of a looming humanitarian emergency in the form of diseases in makeshift camps and difficulty in transporting food.
Riots broke out in the capital and elsewhere after an election commission declared President Mwai Kibaki winner in an election rife with irregularities. His main rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, said the election was fixed. Violence soon degenerated into tribal vendettas, particularly between Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe and Odinga’s Luo.
At least 30 people died when an Assemblies of God church in Eldoret was set on fire with hundreds of families inside and those escaping were hunted down with machetes. Witnesses described the scene as reminiscent to Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
Baptist World Aid received reports that church members have had businesses broken into an robbed. People cloistered in their homes, fearing for their lives. Many sought shelter in local churches.
Funds raised by BWAid will be used to support Kenyan Baptists in efforts to restore livelihood to those affected by violence, according to press release. BWAid recently supported a project to provide education to children living in a Nairobi slum. The school was scheduled to open Jan. 2, but the opening was postponed to Jan. 15 due to the security situation.
President Kibaki on Saturday offered to form a national unity government to defuse the violence, but Odinga refused, saying he should be the one offering to share power. The Africa Union and United States sent envoys to try to reconcile the two sides.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionary Sam Harrell reported on a ministry Web site that mission agencies have done a good job evacuating personnel from affected regions. Most tourists left and many canceled plans to travel to Kenya, during the height of tourist season. Tourism is a major industry for Kenya
“All in all, violence has abated and the work of figuring out a way out of the stalemate has begun,” Harrell wrote. “I expect it will be a long road.”
About 5,000 Kenyans reportedly have fled to Uganda, where they live in schools, churches and with relatives, and an unknown number have left for Tanzania.
Donations to Baptist World Aid for Kenya relief can be made online by clicking here.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.