The naming of Kenyans suspected to bear the greatest responsibility for post-election violence in 2008 could trigger violent reactions in some communities, with humanitarian implications, aid workers warn.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on 15 December named six prominent Kenyans, including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey, Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura and former education minister William Ruto.
"The humanitarian community has contingency planning in place that ensures we are able to reach the most vulnerable and affected groups should there be any violent reaction with some humanitarian implications," Choice Okoro, the acting officer-in-charge for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA Kenya), told IRIN on 14 December.
Three years after the violence, hundreds of the thousands displaced in early 2008 have yet to be fully resettled and remain in transit sites in parts of Central and Rift Valley provinces. Many of them have in the past expressed fear that tension over land and ethnicity may persist in these areas.
Okoro said OCHA Kenya had met key partners in government and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) "and we are hopeful that the announcement of the ICC indictees will not generate violence with humanitarian implications".
Titus Mung’ou, spokesman for the Kenya Red Cross Society, told IRIN it would not be "caught off-guard" in case of any eventuality. "We are always there to respond to natural and man-made disasters; this year alone we have done three or four disaster response trainings for our staff and volunteers," he said. "We have worked with partners and other humanitarian organizations to strengthen disaster response capacity across the country."
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The Red Cross has prepared food stockpiles in every region of the country, "enough to cater for 150,000 families before we can ask for humanitarian aid", and thousands of volunteers, equipment such as vehicles, and logistic arrangements, are in place across the country in readiness for disaster response.
According to a report by a commission of inquiry into the post-election violence - formed in June 2008 - some 1,133 people died and more than 350,000 were displaced. The commission was one of the products of mediation efforts led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. A power-sharing agreement in late February 2008 stabilized the country.
Established by the Rome Statute on 1 July 2002, the ICC has been conducting investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, Kenya and Sudan, and has issued 13 arrest warrants for eight cases.