Hunger Grows in Kenya as Crisis Unfolds

In Kibera, Kenya's largest slum, at least 1,000 women and children waited outside in the hot sun all day for the Red Cross to distribute desperately needed food.

"I am very hungry," cried one woman. "I haven't eaten for three days."

Those in Kibera represent a growing humanitarian crisis in Kenya. The Red Cross estimates at least 100,000 people have been displaced since violence broke out after the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki last Sunday.

The United Nation's World Food Programme issued a statement today that it would supply food to the Northern Rift Valley of Kenya, where most of the displaced people are, as well as other conflict regions in Kenya.

"WFP is working in cooperation with the Red Cross, U.N. agencies and the government to provide food assistance to the displaced and other victims of violence as soon as possible," the statement read.

Food and fuel supplies are dwindling all over Kenya as well, leaving the poorest of Kenya's poor, such as those in Kibera, with nothing.

"There's been a lot of looting," said Kibera resident Abdul Raza Kiongo. "Most of the shops are closed down, and we find that now the price of the items has really risen." He added that milk and bread cost nearly twice as much as before the violence.

The Kenyan Red Cross said it is doing everything it can to help people in need. Kibera is especially worrisome, said Abdishakir Othowai, the special projects manager of the Kenyan Red Cross Society.

"The slums of Kibera are the poorest of the poor," said Othowai. "We are thinking over 90 percent of them may need assistance."

But politics continued to keep the people in Kibera from receiving food.

An opposition rally was being set up just a few feet from the Red Cross truck. When Othowai and other Red Cross officials arrived to distribute the food, they were not happy with the nearby rally. "We cannot have a Red Cross food distribution right next to a political rally," said Othowai. "The Red Cross does not get involved with politics."

As the politicians arrived, the crowd erupted in cheers, song and dance. The Red Cross truck moved to the outskirts of the neighborhood. One rally organizer said, "You see, they have forgotten about wanting food."

But they didn't forget for very long.

As soon as the rally was over, the thousands of people went back to looking for the food they had been waiting for all day. A few reached the Red Cross truck and confronted the staff telling them it was "very bad" to make women and children sit outside all day and then not deliver food.

"If you can't give us the food, start your gas and go away, or we're going to burn the car," an unidentified angry young man said to the Red Cross staff.

The staff left and a police water cannon took its place. The Red Cross plans to try to deliver supplies again Saturday, but fears on all sides about the ongoing violence only makes the situation worse.

Between worries about lack of fuel, food and water, and reports of ethnic attacks after the sundown, Kibera residents don't feel safe.

"For the past four days now we have not been sleeping," said Kiongo. "Schools are supposed to be open this week, and my kids can't go to school. I can't go to my job," he said. "We are not at peace."

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