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|Africa Aid Event Delayed By Security Alerts|
London, 11 Jun 2003 (AlertNet) - The organizers of a major aid-related exhibition and conference, due be held in Nairobi on June 25 and 26, announced on Wednesday that the event had been postponed for a month because of terrorist threats and restrictions on flights to Kenya.
In a statement, organizers Corp Fairs and Exhibitions - part of the Winchester Group - said: "This decision, deemed the most appropriate course of action given the circumstances, has been made only after taking advice from the British government and with the full support of the British High Commission in Kenya."
It added that the company had taken the step to ensure that the inaugural International Aid & Trade Africa Conference and Exhibition 2003 was as safe as possible.
The statement quoted Russell Kean, managing director of the Winchester Group, as saying: "The major factor impacting on the decision to move the event on a month, was that flight restrictions and several governments' travel advice, may have reduced the numbers able to participate. "
The event, now scheduled to take place in Nairobi's Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi on July 23 and 24, has the theme "Building Integrated Solutions for African Aid and Development". Previous International Aid and Trade events have taken place in Geneva and New York.
Almost 140 exhibitors, including U.N., NGO and government agencies, had already booked to take part when official government travel warnings were issued last month after intelligence sources said there was a risk of a terrorist attack. British Airways has cancelled all Kenya flights, as has the Israeli airline El Al.
The British Foreign Office has advised travelers not to visit Kenya "unless on essential business", with similar warnings against travel to parts of neighboring Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Other countries issuing warnings against travel to Kenya included the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, while Western embassies in the region have stepped up security, closed temporarily or evacuated non-essential staff and families as a result of intelligence.
Apart from the most recent scare, Kenya has seen a suicide attack last year on a Mombassa tourist hotel that killed 14 people and rockets fired at an airliner, while the car bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and the Tanzanian capital Dar-es-Salaam killed 231 people in 1998.
International Aid and Trade Africa 2003 in Nairobi is expected to attract visitors from Africa and around the world. Its web site says it "will provide a forum for senior representatives from the public and private sectors, international aid agencies, governments, multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, civil society organizations and NGOs".
It aims to "enable those involved in the provision of aid for Africa to improve cooperation, build local capacity and address the current realities being faced by agencies in the field", including discussions on food security, conflict, AIDS, improving access to water, medical assistance and protection for displaced people and Africa's millions of refugees.
International Aid and Trade Africa 2003 is being supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the regional office of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and is sponsored by Inmarsat and Transport Aid Japan.
Aid groups exhibiting will include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Kenya, GTZ International Services for Central and Eastern Africa, International Islamic Relief Organization Saudi Arabia and Jesuit Refugee Service, as well as a range of U.N. agencies such as UNICEF, the U.N. Development Programme, the refugee agency UNHCR, the Human Settlements Programme HABITAT, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Strategy For Disaster Reduction.
One of the event organizers told AlertNet that, while some speakers had been changed because they were unwilling to travel, others had agreed to take part. No exhibitor had cancelled, he said, adding: "Many are from the region and they are keen that we carry on."