Pope Francis Expresses “spiritual closeness” to Kenyans as Flash Floods Cause Dozens of Deaths, Widespread Destruction

Pope Francis prays during his Wednesday general audience on 15 November 2023. | Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis is in spiritual solidarity with the people of God in Kenya, where heavy rainfall has caused flash floods, dozens of deaths, and widespread destruction of property.

“I wish to convey to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time when a severe flood has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injuring others and causing widespread destruction,” Pope Francis said during his Wednesday, May 1 General Audience at the Vatican.

The Holy Father appealed for prayers those affected by the “natural disaster” and cautioned against despair amid “adversity”.

“I invite you to pray for all those who are suffering the effects of this natural disaster,” he said, and added, “Even in the midst of adversity, let us remember the joy of the risen Christ.”

Media reports indicate that at least 170 people have so far lost their lives amid heavy rainfall that is predicted to continue into June. More than 91 people remain unaccounted for, according to government figures.


The Floods have displaced more than 30,000 households, affecting some 150,485 people.

In Mai Mahiu, a town in Kenya’s Nakuru County, at least 50 people died, and dozens went missing after a gulley near a railway line that filled up with rain water burst, the flowing water to the lower-lying areas causing loss of human life and destruction of property.

On Tuesday, April 30, William Ruto, Kenya’s President, reportedly visited the flood survivors in Mai Mahiu and recounted the tragedy.

"I know you have lost your children. Up to now, 48 dead bodies of children, women and men have been retrieved from here. Even though most of the about 100 people that were in hospitals have been treated and discharged, we still have about 26 people admitted," President Ruto has been quoted as saying.

He is said to have deployed the military to facilitate the evacuation of families residing n flood-prone areas.

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Earlier, President Ruto directed the National Youth Service (NYS) to provide land for those living in flood-prone areas  as government plans on what to do on April 25. 

In neighbouring Tanzania, the death toll from flooding had risen to 155 by April 25, and affected over 200,000 others, according to the country’s Prime Minister. 

On April 25, the Director of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA), a department of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), called for solidarity.

"In times of adversity, solidarity becomes our beacon of hope. Now, more than ever, we must stand with Kenya,” JENA Director, Fr. Charles Chilufya, said, and added, “As we witness Kenya's struggle, let us extend our hands in solidarity.” 

The Zambian-born member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) emphasized the need to “support the relief efforts” towards the affected individuals and families, and to “collaborate in building resilient communities capable of weathering the storms of climate change.” 


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