Caritas in Kenya has laid the groundwork to respond in the event that violence erupts during presidential elections next week.
Over 1000 people died in ethnic violence following disputed elections in Kenya in 2007. Over 600,000 fled their homes and there were many cases of sexual violence.
“We don’t expect widespread violence like the last time, but there may be isolated incidences,” says Stephen Kituku, director of Caritas Kenya. “Caritas is ready to respond to any eventuality during and after the elections. We’ve pre-positioned aid and we have been working with communities on peace initiatives.”
Caritas Kenya working with other Caritas member organisations has been coordinating with all dioceses to collect information and updates on the situation on the ground. It has mapped “hotspots” of potential areas of trouble and identified parishes which will act as focal points in the event of fighting.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has been particularly active in peacebuilding initiatives in areas where conflicts are common due to clashes over resources and ethnicity.
Over 100 lives have been lost in inter-communal conflicts in the run-up to the elections. As a result, the government and political leaders have made calls for peace.
The Church in Kenya held a national prayer day for a peaceful election and for the launch of the Lenten Campaign 2013 “United and peaceful Kenya – The Change I Want to see.”
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