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UN official warns of renewed hostilities in Kenya

A senior United Nations official said that fresh violence could erupt in Kenya if there is no quick resolution to the political crisis in the African country.

John Holmes, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, made the warning when briefing the UN Security Council on his recent trip to the east African country.

He told the 15-member council that if Kenya's political crisis is not solved quickly, the new risk of a fresh surge in violence, more displacement and further polarization of society will be very high, said Michele Montas, the spokeswoman of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at a regular press briefing.

“Kenya's displacement crisis will not disappear quickly, even if there is a political agreement in the coming days,” Holmes told reporters after briefing the Security Council on his trip to Kenya, which included camps for the displaced in the Rift Valley Province.

His warning came amid reports that talks between President MwaiKibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to end Kenya's political crisis reached a standstill on Monday.

The talks were being conducted under the mediation of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Holmes said there are still about 270,000 people in camps and sites around Kenya and that there are many more people that need assistance.

“The scale of the crisis remains significant,” he said. “If the negotiations were to fail, then the humanitarian consequences of renewed violence could also be very severe.”

The crisis erupted in December after Kibaki was declared the winner of an election which the opposition says was rigged. Over 1,000 people were killed and several hundred thousand displaced by the violence that followed.

Holmes said even if there was a rapid political settlement, some of the issues behind the recent explosion of violence after the elections are very deep-rooted and to do with questions of land, poverty, economic inequality, and questions of representation in government.

“They will need to be addressed,” Holmes said. “That will require a huge political effort, and sometime from all politicians in Kenya but also the help of the international community.”

“The UN stands ready to help Kenya deal with those problems through i its development and humanitarian efforts in the next few months,” Holmes said. (Xinhua)