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Amidst Raids Arrests at Kakuma UNHCR Responds with Update

First and foremost, we would like to thank those who engaged with our UNHCR colleagues and partners in constructive discussions during the meeting that took place last month in Brussels. We would also like to give you a brief update on the situation in the reception centre in Kakuma and on the movement of refugees and asylum-seekers who recently requested to travel from Nairobi to Kakuma.

In mid-November, over the course of two days, around 55 refugees and asylum-seekers with an LGBTI profile living in Nairobi approached the Refugee Affairs Secretariat for issuance of movement passes to travel to Kakuma. Given the possible protection risks for such a large group and the necessity to make adequate arrangements in Kakuma, the group was informed that their travel would need to be staggered and thus may take some time. However, all movement from Nairobi to Kakuma has been interrupted for almost two weeks and until further notice due to blocked roads caused by heavy rains.

On 26 November 2019, the majority of the 157 individuals accommodated in the Kakuma reception centre who had left during the day arrived late to the centre in the evening and were consequently denied entry. Some members of the group forced their way in, leading to the arrest of five persons on grounds of disturbance of public order. The next day, approximately 50-60 refugees and asylum-seekers moved to the UNHCR Kakuma Office and have since been camping outside of the gate.

On 29 November, the group was informed by UNHCR that the Refugee Affairs Secretariat will register all unregistered asylum-seekers present in Kakuma and that the data of those who are already registered will be transferred from Nairobi, regardless of whether they raised asylum claims based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity or not. As of 3 December, five persons have returned to the reception centre to access these registration services. We therefore ask you to use whatever contacts you might have to this group to spread the message that registration and data transfer is available and to encourage them to move back to the Kakuma reception centre in order to be able to access further assistance and services.

We also wish to inform you that the community forums initiated in August 2019 will continue to be held periodically. Those meetings are only one mechanism of providing information and receiving feedback from refugees along with continuous direct access to UNHCR protection officers through the Refugee Assistance Helpline e-mail address and phone number 0800720063 and access to HIAS staff available at three offices across Nairobi.

Thank you.

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