Suffering at Nyanza camps for displaced
Published on February 11, 2008, 12:00 am
By Harold Ayodo
Life is tough for displaced people in makeshift camps in Nyanza Province.
Congestion, fear of disease outbreak and hunger are some of the hardships the more than 2,000 displaced people in Kisumu and Siaya face.
At St Stephen’s Cathedral in Kisumu, more than 1,000 people use two toilets.
Parents are living in fear after Mr Elijah Odero lost his daughter, four, at the camp.
“I narrowly escaped death with my family at Kabati estate in Naivasha only to lose Lillian Awuor near my ancestral home,” says Odero.
Increasing cases of diarrhoea among children aged below five and respiratory infections are worrying health workers.
The story is the same at St Peter’s Anglican Church in Siaya and Ebenezer Child Care Centre in Nyando District.
The Rev Kenneth Wachianga of Anglican Church and Bishop Isaac Obure of Future Life Church have raised concerns over the health of displaced people camping in Siaya.
“Some at St Peter’s Anglican Church are suffering from various conditions, including trauma,” said Wachianga.
Obure said most people relied on Good Samaritans for transport to their rural homes, while others did not know where to go.
“Some people have lived away from their homes for more than 25 years. They only know that they are from Siaya, but do not know exactly where,” said Obure.
Omega Foundation Director, Dr Samuel Oron, said people hosted at the orphanage risked starvation.
“The displaced people are suffering from many ailments and there is not enough food,” he said.
Oron said the home was depending on well-wishers to feed more than 1,500 people who arrived from Central Province.
“Most of them have only the clothes they are wearing and do not have money for transport to their rural homes,” he said.
Mrs Helen Oromo of Our Lady of Perpetual Support for People Living with HIV/Aids and Orphans is counselling people camping in Kisumu.
Mrs Petronella Agak from Yala, Ms Rose Atieno of Uyoma and Mrs Grace Atieno from Bondo are among those traumatised. “I saw my neighbours being beheaded and two families locked in their house and burnt to death…They screamed as the attackers chanted war songs,” said Agak.
Kisumu East Public Health Officer, Ms Mackline Saitera, said more people were expected at the lakeside town from Naivasha.
“We were informed that some children expected from Naivasha today have measles, while others are suffering from cholera,” Saitera added.
Health workers yesterday immunised children and pregnant women against tetanus.
Three women delivered at the camp last week, as medical workers said children infected with measles would be secluded.
“We do not want to take chances even with diseases that affect newborns and expectant mothers,” Saitera said.
She said people arriving from Naivasha and Nakuru were being given preventive drugs.
“We have given cholera preventive drugs to 40 displaced people from Naivasha and Nakuru overnight and the trend will continue,” she said.
Kisumu Kenya Red Cross Society medical co-ordinator, Mr James Ayuyo, said they had sufficient drugs.
He said additional supplies were expected as more people arrived at the camps. He said Aga Khan Hospital and individuals had donated drugs.
Ayuyo said HIV infected people were receiving medication.
“We have treated several cases of respiratory tract infections, including coughs and chest pains, since the displaced people arrived on Monday,” Ayuyo added.