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UN official warns of "silent" humanitarian crisis in Mandera

06 May 2014, 09:10

Mandera - The UN top relief official for Kenya on Monday warned of a "silent" humanitarian crisis in Mandera County and reaffirmed UN commitment to work with county authorities to reverse the situation.

Kanyankore Marcel Rudasingwa, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kenya, said security constraints must be addressed in Mander, which is one of the poorest regions in northern Kenya.

"International humanitarian and development organizations have stayed away from Mandera County due to heightened insecurity. The safety of our workers must be guaranteed," said Rudasingwa who was in Mandera on Monday.

Mandera has suffered decades of marginalization and underdevelopment, resulting in poor transport and communication infrastructure, and extremely low access to basic services such as water, health care, education and markets.

Isabelle D'Haudt, representing the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), noted that the central and county governments and development partners must prioritize investments in building the infrastructure in northern Kenya.

Mandera Governor, Ali Ibrahim Roba said the county government is working closely with partners to solve some immediate problems such as the erratic water supply.

"The lack of water is a potential trigger for conflict, and increasing access to water is an urgent priority," Roba said.

He also noted that Mandera is the first county to establish security as a "shared" function with the County Commissioner and County Police Commander, and has taken steps to professionalize the Kenya Police Reservists (KPR) in collaboration with the National Police Service.

The mission, the first high-level visit to Mandera in at least two years, reiterated the need to coordinate aid work effectively.

"At a time when resources are increasingly becoming scarce, we must coordinate efforts in order to attain best results possible," said Rudasingwa.

Mandera County in north-eastern Kenya continues to post alarming humanitarian indicators amid heightened insecurity and low presence of humanitarian and development organizations.

Some 3,795 women out of 100,000 die while giving birth, compared to a national average of 360.

The rates of malnutrition are beyond the emergency level of 15 percent year-round, and 90 percent of the population is illiterate, with secondary school enrolment falling far behind the national average.

 - Xinhua

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