Turmoil in Kenya
“More than 800 people have been killed and 300,000 have fled their homes […]The United Nations says about half a million people have been affected by the violence and has appealed for $42 million in humanitarian aid. Food, shelter, water, sanitation and disease prevention are among the top priorities. The worst displacement is in the Rift Valley where the United Nations said in early January that 100,000 people could face starvation. Many of those who have been uprooted are too frightened to return home. Others have nothing left to go back to.”
(Source: Reuters Alernet: Kenya Violence Briefing )
Let’s take a moment to think about the long term implications of this on a human, political and socio-economic level. These 300,000 people are now unemployed and homeless, all the while Kenya’s economic is but short of coming to a grinding halt. Regardless, the current situation will have short and long term repercurssions on levels of foreign investment, as well as international development aid (which comes with strings attached). It will take a long time for Kenya to recover from this crisis, which is seriously tarnishing its image. And, as this astute writer notes, this will also have consequences for the image of the continent as a whole.
So in the context of political and social instability, how are those affected going to respond? They will employ desperate measures, and, once again, livelihoods that have been destroyed will perpetuate themselves, and breed anger, resentment. The social effects of this crisis are going to run deep – besides the obvious ethnic tensions this has revealed (created? exacerbated? it’s hard to say), let’s keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of people are traumatized, and have to rebuild their lives as best they can, with little public or international help.
This blogger, writing from Kenya, explains that he thinks the worst is behind. He notes that Kenya is getting regional and international attention, that the Kenyan civil society is pulling together…. But fails to mention that the African Union – in spite of the exhortations of various Heads of State to end violence – is not taking any concrete steps. The UN’s Ban Ki Moon is making only meager efforts, and its the former Sec-Gen, Kofi Annan, who has been most involved. Oh, and the American involvement? The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer. Clearly, the American government cares about this…
Yes, the concept of non-intervention is easily deployed here to excuse the lack of international mobilization…. I’m willing to bet that, in retrospect, this stand will be condemned. The consequences of this will primarily impact the most vulnerable, and you can rest assured that greedy politicians will continue to manipulate and abuse them.