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We Have Family in Kenya

Post-Election Violence Leads to Political Crisis

Kenya Leaders
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and his political rival Raila Odinga

FOREST PARK, IL -- January 7, 2008 -- In Kenya, eastern Africa, at least 300 people have been killed and as many as 250,000 people internally displaced in the subsequent post-election violence, according to new sources. Dominicans are in Kenya and we have a special report from the friars.

Charges of fraud have led to tribal violence and a call for new elections. The Kenya Human Rights Commission has called on Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who arrived in Kenya on January 3rd, to oversee a recount of the vote which has been widely criticized. Tutu is trying to mediate a solution to the dispute between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

There is significant Dominican presence in Kenya, including frars from the St. Joseph Province, East African and the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, NY. In Kisumu, the sisters ministry to children with cancer. Sr. Mary Francis reports that the three sisters ministering there are safe at this time. The sisters work with the Eastern Africa Dominican Friars and live in a compound protected by a high wall and electric fence.

Dominic Izzo, OP provincial of St. Joseph province, reports that the Domincan friars have three missions in Kenya and they are outside of the city and are relatively safe at this time. But their situation is tentative as more Kenyans are seeking shelter from acts of violence. Read a more detailed report of what is happening for the friars.

In Nairobi, Sr. Luise Radlmeier, OP, a Dominican missionary, reports that her community is sheltering several families who have been threatened and about 500 families from Gachororo Village are camped at the university grounds with 135 orphan children among them.

Luise RadlmeierRadlmeier reports that fuel is scarce and travel is dangerous. Foodstore shelves are empty and storefronts closed. Radlmeier called on political leaders to restore calm and return the country to peace. She feared that they would run out of supplies before the streets become safe again.

In a statement calling for an end to violence, John Cardinal Njue of the Kenya Epicopal Conference said,
"We have lived together for all these years as brothers and sisters. There is therefore no reason for us to be used to raise our hand against our neighbor because he or she belongs to a different ethnic group or political affiliation. Life is Sacred! We all belong to one family of God." (full statement here)

Sr. Mary Gitau IBVM, chairperson of the Council of Religious Women in Kenya appealed to all religous leaders to call for calm and to cooperate in bringing about peace. "We recognize the supremacy of the law in any democratic country. Violence is not an option for us no matter how aggrieved we feel we are, " she said in a statement endorsed by their conference.


Sources: CNN, TIME., St. Joseph Province, DLC UN Office in New York. Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne website.


Read an Eye Witness Report from the Dominican Friars in Kenya

Learn more about the Hawthorne Dominicans' Mission in Kisumu

Learn more about the Dominican friars of East Africa in Kenya from their website

Fr. Tom's Kids

Kenya needs political solution to avoid worsening violence

United Nations Says 250,000 displaced by violence

Kenyan Catholic bishops appeal for dialogue to resolve violence

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