Direct Relief today increased its cash commitment to $25,000 to assist with the humanitarian crisis that has gripped areas of Kenya in the aftermath of recent elections.
Dr. Hezron Mc’Obewa, Direct Relief’s regional medical adviser and founder of the OGRA Foundation, is leading the humanitarian coordinating council in the Kisumu area. In a Friday evening (Kenya time) call, Dr. Hezron reported that estimates of displaced persons are still imprecise, but he believes as many as 200,000 people nationwide have been displaced, in many cases because their homes were burned. As an example of the level of displacement, he mentioned that his team had just learned today of a school in which 3,000 people have seeking shelter for several days without any supplies.
He reported that the level of violence in Kisumu has decreased over the past day, but that the road network is still insecure and obstructed by barricades that have been formed by burned trucks. These impediments hamper the resumption of normal commercial activity in outlying areas. Resulting shortages of items such as diesel fuel, the price of which has spiked 50 percent in Kisumu, has prevented assessments in outlying areas and complicate relief efforts.
With Direct Relief’s initial commitment of $10,000, Dr. Hezron has been able to purchase on the local market essential medicines and supplies to care for the more than 9,600 displaced people in his immediate area. However, these initial supplies are sufficient for only the next three days, according to Dr. Hezron. Some of the displaced persons are patients with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy medication furnished by Direct Relief, and Dr. Hezron advised that they had been able to maintain the daily therapy despite the situation.
In addition to the cash commitment, Direct Relief has made an initial airfreight shipment of essential medical supplies, will be providing an emergency module donated by Johnson & Johnson, and will continue to monitor the situation very closely.