MAF Resumes Flights in Volatile Kenya

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has resumed flights in Kenya after temporarily suspending them last Thursday over security fears for staff.

MAF planes are being used to evacuate people from areas of violence and instability as well as help with relief efforts by bringing vital supplies to those in need.

With the exception of one day of suspended flights, the ministry has flown throughout the crisis for the Red Cross, Intensive Care Air Ambulance, Gospel Fire International and Diguna, among others.

Political heavyweights the European Union and the United Nations as well as the United States have intensified pressure on Kenya's politicians who are still squabbling over the outcome of the Dec. 27 presidential elections. The dispute between Kenya's incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, and opposition candidate Raila Odinga led to an outbreak of violence in the once stable and prosperous democratic country in Eastern Africa.

"All political parties in Kenya should recognize that it cannot be business as usual in Kenya until there is political compromise which leads to a lasting solution that reflects the will of the Kenyan people," the EU said in a statement.

MAF pilots have flown staff members of the Catholic Relief Services ministry to the trouble hotspot of Eldoret, where 30 people were locked in a nearby church and burned alive.

Catholic Relief Services is coordinating relief efforts for a number of aid agencies there and MAF flights have been used to bring urgent supplies, including blankets and mosquito nets to thousands of refugees there, some of whom have lost their homes and their livelihoods.

MAF also came to the aid of Empowering Lives International, which needed to transport staff back to Nairobi, where they were flying back out to the United States, and move out other team members in danger.

"Threats came to our director that our whole compound may be burned because we were caring for people regardless of their tribal affiliation," Don Rogers of Empowering Lives International said.
Safely back in Nairobi, Rogers wrote, "Only an organization like MAF would have been willing to go out of their way for us. MAF picked us up – prayed before the flight – and in every other way blessed our family and ministry, as well as a dozen others who were able to get on to the same plane with us."

Last week, MAF pilots Roland Sedlmeier and Jane Wambui flew to the volatile area of Tinderet for the Diguna charity to evacuate some of their team members.

The Diguna team reported, "Many team members, as well as most of the home children, are not from the local tribe. As such, they are now seen as intruders, and could potentially become targets of attacks."

More than 600 people are feared to have been killed and 250,000 displaced during the post-election violence.

MAF staff in Nairobi remain safe, the ministry said.

"The situation is constantly changing and we are closely monitoring events," said MAF.

The MAF program in Kenya provides aviation services, with a fleet of seven aircraft, as well as information technology and logistics to serve Kenya, Sudan and Somalia.

Founded in 1945, MAF deploys a fleet of 134 aircraft worldwide to serve in the remotest regions of 51 countries. More than 1,000 Christian and humanitarian organizations in isolated areas depend on MAF to carry out their work.