Mission Aviation Fellowship Suspends Flights in Kenya

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By Maria Mackay, Christian Today Reporter
January 4, 2008|3:59 pm

Mission Aviation Fellowship’s team in Kenya has suspended flights because of the dangers posed by the violence that has been rocking the country for nearly a week.

The faith-based ministry said that the serious turmoil had brought non-stop requests for help from people desperate to flee deadly clashes between police and anti-government protesters over the disputed December 27 presidential election and accusations. Opposition leader Raila Odinga accuses President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the votes in favor of Kibaki’s re-election.

In western Kenya, at least 70,000 people have been displaced by the violence, according to the Kenyan Red Cross.

Before Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) suspended flights on Thursday, its pilots flew to the region to evacuate Kenyan locals threatened by the angry protesters, as well as missionaries who were no longer safe in their homes.

MAF’s country director in Kenya, Bernard Terlouw, said, “The stories we heard were very, very sad.”

“This morning I saw trucks with riot police on Ngong road. Right now as I write one can see smoke rising from Kibera and from the Ngong road area we hear the sounds of shots. We can only pray that someone or something intervenes,” he added.

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MAF said that the suspension of flights was temporary and that it planned to resume flying again on Monday. In the meantime, ministry staff remain in their homes.

Thousands have headed to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to escape the Rift Valley area, where machete-wielding youths have burned down homes and, in some cases, entire villages. In Nairobi, police have set up barricades at the major roundabouts into the city and halted traffic.

Around 300 people have been killed in the violence, the worst of which was the torching of a Kenyan Assemblies of God church in Kiambaa, outside Eldoret, on Tuesday by a mob that killed more than 30 people.

A pastor at the church, Jackson Nyanga, told BBC that many of the people were beaten before the building was set on fire. According to Reuters, the victims were locked inside by the mob.

 

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