To: LGBTI Refugees in Nairobi
From: Melanie Nathan, Executive Director, African HRC
Date: April 06, 2018
NOTICE | PLEASE BE AWARE!
Please review the following observations for LGBTI refugees in Kenya: This Notice does not serve to tell anyone what to do. Each person is able to make their own decisions based on their own information and we will honor and respect the decisions of each individual:
It has come to our attention that a meeting took place in Nairobi with UNHCR focal persons and others, including leaders from the various urban LGBTI refugee communities in Nairobi.
This meeting seems to have caused some confusion among LGBT refugees, resulting in several different interpretations of the facts as presented and the intention of UNHCR moving forward with regard to LGBTI refugees.
This has further resulted in the spread of these inaccurate interpretations by social media community and activists.
Some of what you are reading on social media is rumor and conjecture.
It is always a good idea obtain the facts directly from UNHCR and not rely on other people’s interpretations or rumors. Even be sure that your own community leader has properly understood the directives. To that end you should ask for it in writing, as we at African HRC have done – and we still await a response.
We have heard that based on some interpretations of this meeting LGBTI people plan to protest outside UNHCR.
In the past when this occurred it provided an excuse for authorities to call Kenyan police/ security and people were arrested, harshly treated, beaten and eventually sent to Kakuma.
We believe if you protest you are playing into the hands of those who would rather see you in Kakuma than in Nairobi – after all the Kenyan government has made it law that all refugees should be in camps and prefer you not to be in urban areas.
If you protest you must remember that you are not citizens of Kenya and your ‘rights’ are limited to that of asylum seeker/refugee – and you are at the mercy of a HOST country that continues to criminalize your sexuality, just as did the country you are exiled from.
African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC) continues to advocate for individuals, case by case, and also for the general population as a whole. We are not in a financial position to help anyone who may require transport money, medical assistance as a result of arrests or beatings that may transpire when you protest. So we are warning you in advance that you will have to seek help elsewhere if you choose to protest, knowing that you may be endangering your situation.
We understand that your situation as LGBTI makes your life so much harder as a refugee, because your insecurities are continuing in your host country, in a manner that straight refugees do not share, - however many straight refugees have waited in Kakuma for over 14 years and are still not resettled. Resentments build as you get settled quicker. Be aware of that.
There are 60 million people in the world in exile from their own countries, many millions seeking resettlement or repatriation. UNHCR is under-funded and overwhelmed.
Many of you LGBTI, especially from UGANDA, have been waiting since 2014 and 2015 – while your friends came at same time and have already been resettled abroad – but you still wait. Your stipends have ended and you are struggling to survive. That is very hard – and you may still have 1 or 2 years ahead of you in your process.
We are suggesting that you think very carefully before doing anything that can hurt your future chances of resettlement, even in the face of feeling hopeless, know there is always HOPE!
We are advocating harder at this time for countries to start to open up more places for LGBTI refugees and meetings are taking place with African HRC and allies these coming weeks. We can only hope to create more awareness about the LGBTI situation in the hope you will be resettled and quicker. We are also advocating for safer and better conditions in Kakuma and for LGBTI refugees in general.
While you may be justified in your protest it may serve to hurt you. PLEASE BE AWARE! it is up to YOU not to do anything that jeopardizes your own future.
DO YOU WANT TO GIVE KENYAN GOVERNMENT AN EXCUSE TO ARREST YOU AND SEND YOU OFF TO KAKUMA?