Timesonline January 8th, 2008 Melanie Reid
A group of Franciscan nuns from Glasgow are trapped in desperate circumstances in their missionary compound in Kenya.
The sisters, who are sheltering 1,500 vulnerable people in the convent, faxed an emergency plea to the leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics for help. Sister Kelly, the head of the order in Kericho, in the southwest of the country, said that she was protecting men, women and children from marauding gangs, but was running out of food and water.
The Sunday Herald reported that in a desperate communication to Cardinal Keith O’Brien in Glasgow, Sister Kelly said: “There are currently 1,500 people burnt out of their homes and many with HIV seeking refuge in the grounds of our convent, with no food and no sanitation.
“The Red Cross can’t get through because roads are blocked and a bridge on the main road blown up. The sisters are doing their best to persuade shop owners to open and allow them to buy enough food, but they are fearful of another Rwanda situation.
She added: “Police are shooting indiscriminately. Kiltegan Fathers in nearby Londiani are going out to collect the dead bodies of their parishioners, including men, women and children, from the streets. The situation is bad.”
Sister Placida, who comes from Greenock, also contacted the Fransciscan order’s headquarters in Glasgow, using her mobile phone. She told them of the fear and uncertainty the nuns faced as they tried to help sufering refugees.
“We seem to be safe for the meantime, but everyone is so scared. We all know about the mob in Eldoret when a mob set fire to a church where men, women and chidlren were sheltering.
“Yesterday four babies were born here in our mission while in another bed a woman is dying in agony from face cancer. Outside hundreds of tea plantation workers have been sacked from their jobs. We don’t know how long we can last in these conditions. With the roads being blocked little can get through to us.”
Another Scottish missionary, Father Tommy Docherty, from Glasgow, is said to be trapped in his home in Eldoret. He has told friends that he has been advised to remain indoors to avoid gangs on the streets.
The Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund has sent money for supplies to the missionaries, but banks and shops are closed.
Cardinal O’Brien, who left for Spain at the weekend to attend a meeting of bishops, has appealed to Scottish politicians for help. He told the paper: “I hope the leaders can be persuadeds to ask their people with some conviciton to stop the fighting and return Kenya to the peaceful happy land we know it to be.
“I visited Rwanda in January 2004 and saw for myself the horrors genocide can bring. My heart goes out to these poor people frightened for their lives in the torubled townships of Kenya.”
The Cardinal said he would to fly to Kenya himself as soon as possible to visit the missionaries.