Aid vacuum looms in Kenya

Aid vacuum looms in Kenya

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Continuing violence in the Horn of Africa may force a substantial withdrawal of humanitarian operations from Kenya, just as an imminent famine threatens millions in the north of the country, and neighbouring South Sudan, So warns the risk and security advisory consultancy, Edinburgh International.

A number of international organisations, including the Australian Red Cross and the US Government, are withdrawing volunteers and staff members from Kenya, amid an escalating security crisis. The Australian Government is planning to withdraw 39 volunteers from a Red Cross-managed programme.

Clare Morton of Edinburgh International said: “A humanitarian vacuum, depriving those most in need of help, is now a real possibility if the violence continues and leaves organisations with no choice but to withdraw staff.”

Many international agencies and NGOs have regional or African headquarters in Nairobi and have run development programmes in Kenya for years.

Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, is in northern Kenya near the Somali border, while the country is also a hub for the distribution of assistance throughout the wider Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions.

But a recent spike in localised gun crime, tribal violence, and Al Shabab attacks, has seen the death toll rise in Nairobi and the coastal areas of Mombasa and Lamu, facing INGOs with increasingly complex security challenges when conducting operations in the country.

Al Shabab have publicly declared their intention to continue targeting Westerners and Western interests in Kenya where the most recent criminal violence resulted in the death of two tourists last month. With memories of the September 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall attack still fresh, concerns about foreigner safety in Kenya are growing, and the sporadic nature of recent attacks suggest that future targets will be harder to predict. Operating in such a volatile environment brings additional, and sometimes unsustainable additional security costs to INGOs, Edinburgh International says.

About Edinburgh International

Edinburgh International works in emerging markets, such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and advises a range of clients in oil and gas, development, telecoms, finance, construction and government. Founded in 2003, Edinburgh International joined the Constellis Group in 2010. With headquarters in London and Dubai, Edinburgh International employs more than 1500 people, representing more than 30 nationalities. The company is a founding member of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) for Private Security Providers and member of the United Nations Global Compact. Visit www.edinburghint.com.

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