Peace Corps Volunteers Evacuate Western Kenya
The U.S. Peace Corps is evacuating 35 of its volunteers from western Kenya because of the violence that has rocked the country since the disputed December 27 presidential election. The relief agency says the volunteers are safe, and should arrive in the main Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam Saturday. The Peace Corps has 144 volunteers based in Kenya, although the organization says 22 of them are currently out of the country. An agency statement says the remaining volunteers have been "consolidated in a variety of locations." The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is asking U.S. citizens in Kenya to remain indoors while the fighting continues, and urges them to consider leaving for their own safety. More than 300 people have been killed in the post-election violence. Read more.
Peace Corps Volunteer Gillie Kehoe Details Perils in Kenya
By yesterday, Kehoe and other volunteers were out of Kenya, away from the carnage that began when President Mwai Kibaki won reelection. Peace Corps officials said 34 volunteers who were working in three western provinces would be temporarily moved to neighboring Tanzania. The Peace Corps has 144 volunteers in Kenya, 122 of whom were in the country when the unrest began, officials said. All of the volunteers have been accounted for and are safe, officials said. Safety and security are the top priorities of the Peace Corps, Amanda Beck, a spokeswoman, said yesterday, adding that the organization has emergency plans for every country and that they were engaged for Kenya. "Our plan is working. Everyone is safe and out of harm's way," she said. All of the organization's volunteers in Kenya have a cellphone and texting capabilities and were encouraged to contact their families, Beck said. The Peace Corps also checked on them twice a day, she said. "We were very closely monitoring the situation," Beck said. "I don't think anyone could have really anticipated what happened and the scale of what happened." Read more.
Peace Corps Volunteer Hanna writes: There is this feeling of shock, defeat and injustice in the air... along with the tension that often chaperones those sentiments
We had the chance a few days ago to watch the news at a nearby hotel. In all honesty, things look MUCH worse on TV than they feel here. I mean, I'm not in Kisumu or Nairobi, but.... a lot of violence has gone down in Kericho, too.... and at least from where we sat, I NEVER would have described "how things are" as the scene that I saw on the news. It makes me sick to see it. I really am heartbroken. Perhaps the saddest thing for me is how ominous the future looks; I can't see how it will be resolved (if it can be resolved) and I certainly don't see it getting better before it gets worse. I don't think that one police officer is the only person who feels that way about justice. And it's becoming more and more apparent that there was (and remains) a lack of it. Read more.
Caption: A riot police officer looks on as people flee the area of ethnic violence in Nairobi January 2, 2008. President Mwai Kibaki's government accused rival Raila Odinga's party of unleashing "genocide" in Kenya on Wednesday as the death toll from tribal violence over a disputed election passed 300. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer
Peace Corps Volunteer Naty writes: Young men walk up and down the roads, dragging their machetes along the concrete. It's designed to scare people. It's working.
Sitting here, inside the house, there's not much to do. Seven of us, Peace Corps volunteers together for the holidays, ate dinner in more silence than accompanied our other meals today and yesterday. Outside there is the sound of muffled voices on loud speakers and radios. There are houses on fire a little ways down the street in both directions. Young men walk up and down the roads, dragging their machetes along the concrete. It's designed to scare people. It's working. This afternoon, before the vegetable stand near the house was tear-gassed while we bought tomatoes, we saw people, presumably Kikuyus, walking towards the tea fields carrying large rice sacks stuffed with their valuables.They went to sleep in the woods, away from crowds and rioters. They were preparing for the worst. They were preparing for this. Read more.