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Crises in Pakistan and Kenya

January 16, 2008

IPPNW responds to crises in Pakistan and Kenya

This issue of IPPNW’s e-update is dedicated to our friends and colleagues in Pakistan and Kenya.

IPPNW’s goal-the abolition of nuclear weapons-is pursued by doctors, medical students, and other health professionals around the world who are sometimes unavoidably caught up in armed violence that breaks out close to home. For these IPPNW activists, the threat of nuclear war is seen through the lens of conflicts that are taking lives and undermining societies all around them. Tragically, 2007 came to a bloody end in two countries where the pursuit of peace, political stability, and development could not be more important.

In nuclear-armed Pakistan, the prominent former Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan People’s Party Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27 as she left a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. Her death sent shock waves through a country already grappling with political instability and internal violence. Fear that a sudden collapse of the Musharraf government might leave Pakistan’s nuclear weapons up for grabs led to media-fueled speculation about US plans for yet another military intervention. In the midst of the crisis, e-mails from members of Pakistan Doctors for Peace and Development described a society on the brink of chaos, and appealed for support from the international community.

Allegations of vote-counting fraud following national elections in Kenya in December led to a sudden and frightening breakdown of civil society. Members of the Kenyan Association of Physicians and Medical Workers for Social Responsibility told IPPNW the casualty figures were far higher than those reported in the mainstream media, and documented killing sprees and a refugee crisis eerily reminiscent of the early days of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Like their fellow peace advocates in Pakistan, the Kenyan doctors issued a plea for help.

IPPNW issued a statement within days of these events, expressing solidarity with our Pakistani and Kenyan affiliates and calling for an end to the violence, for open and credible elections, and for measures to prevent the further loss of life.

To read IPPNW’s statement, click here.

For a collection of press clippings and images on the post-electoral violence in Kenya prepared by Racheal Gitau of IPPNW-Kenya, click here.

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