Kenyan Hospitals Treating Hundreds In Post-Poll Violence
Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
|A man left for dead by opposition supporters is rescued in the Mathare slums, Nairobi. Hundreds have been treated for violence-related wounds|
NAIROBI, 9 January 2008 (IRIN) – Hospitals in areas affected by the post-election violence that rocked Kenya in the last week of December and early January have been treating hundreds of patients for injuries inflicted with machetes, arrows and spears, as well as gunshot wounds and burns.
Of the 275 people with violence-related injuries treated at Kenyatta National Hospital, the main government-run referral health facility in Nairobi, 121 had multiple cuts, while the rest suffered gunshot wounds or had been attacked with blunt objects that caused fractures. Others had been shot with arrows, according to Peter Kamau of the hospital’s disaster management section.
Most casualties with gunshot wounds were reported in the western city of Kisumu, where rioting erupted on 30 December 2007, immediately after the Electoral Commission declared incumbent President Mwai Kibaki the winner of the election held on 27 December. Kibaki’s main challenger, Raila Odinga, has rejected the result and claimed he won the election, alleging it was rigged in Kibaki’s favour.
The New Nyanza Provincial Hospital in Kisumu has treated 146 patients for gunshot wounds, mostly in the abdomen and limbs, since 29 December, said Juliana Otieno, the medical superintendent.
Asked by IRIN whether she believed that police had shot the victims, she said: “Who else has guns in Kenya?” She said the hospital had by 8 January recorded 48 deaths related to the violence. Some 67 patients shot during the disturbances were still in the hospital, including a man shot in the head on the night of 8 January.
The main public hospital in the western town of Eldoret, one of the worst-affected areas, reported receiving patients slashed with machetes, gunshot and arrow wounds, while others had fractures. About eight patients with burns were admitted to the hospital, believed to be survivors of the torching of a church in Eldoret on 1 January. At least 30 people were burnt alive.
“Initially we were overwhelmed by the casualties, because some of our staff were unable to come to work, but we have managed to cope with the situation with help from the Kenya Red Cross Society, MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] and ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], said John Simiyu, head of the emergency section in the Moi Referral Hospital in Eldoret.
The hospital had by 8 January admitted 327 cases of violence-related injuries, including about 100 patients needing surgery.
Ethnic groups perceived to have supported Kibaki have borne the brunt of the violence, mostly in areas of Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces where they live as minorities. Residents of those areas voted overwhelmingly for Odinga.
Kenyan authorities have reported that at least 486 people lost their lives in the violence. United Nations agencies have estimated that about 250,000 people have been displaced because of the unrest.