UN humanitarian chief visits Kenya amid crisis talks

Other News Materials 8 February 2008 14:46 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The United Nations chief humanitarian coordinator John Holmes arrived in Kenya Friday to tour the areas affected by ethnic clashes that have seen hundreds of thousands displaced and some 1,000 people killed.

Holmes is set to meet with government and opposition leaders who are slowly hashing out a solution to the conflict sparked by disputed elections in December.

Holmes' visit is part of a fresh diplomatic push to bring an end to the crisis in the ordinarily stable and peaceful nation as European Union aid chief Louis Michel made his second visit to Kenya in the post-election period and met with leaders from both sides.

The UN meanwhile sent a human rights fact-finding mission to the country to gather information about the violence, which continues in pockets around the East African nation.

The UN Security Council in New York welcomed on Wednesday the talks between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, mediated by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, but called for an end to the violence.

"The council expresses its deep concern that ... civilians continue to be killed, subjected to sexual and gender-based violence and displaced from their homes," a statement said.

Teams representing Odinga and Kibaki began this week to tackle issues surrounding the disputed elections, which triggered the unrest that has unleashed tribal violence some have called ethnic cleansing.

Reports have said the talks are proceeding, albeit bogged down by disagreements over the validity of the polls.

Odinga, 63, charges the vote was rigged while Kibaki, 76, insists he won fairly.

Both negotiating teams have agreed to end the violence that has gripped Kenya within 15 days of January 29, when the mediation officially kicked off.

Some 1,000 people have bee killed and more than 300,000 displaced in the spiral of unrest that has thrown Kenya's reputation as a beacon of stability in a volatile region into question.