Kenya proves it can no longer Host LGBTI Refugees due to Escalating Violence
December 26, 2019
It is Xmas day. Two nights ago, while asleep for the first time in their new shelters at Kakuma Kenya, LGBTI refugees were attacked with sticks and fists. Terrified they were about to be killed, some ran for the bushes and others risked camping outside the Reception Center in the hope that they may finally receive some real protection and security. Two refugees were arrested while allegedly trying to obtain water in an non-permitted zone. At the time of writing this, and after several requests for urgent attention during holiday time, other than receiving food as orchestrated by Marc Cohen of African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC), we have yet to see any help or protection. The situation is dire and the refugees remain in grave danger. We are now also hearing of more refugees within the camp who may have to escape their shelters under fear of pending attacks.
Now the suspicion has been raised that the refugees were actually purposely sent into an area where authorities and officials knew that they would be attacked. Something is dramatically amiss when refugees, escaping from violence in their home countries, cannot experience safety on the very first night of their supposed protection in safe-shelter. This does not bode well for those who knowingly sent them into this insidiously dangerous place, in close proximity to those likely to attack, especially as these attacks had happened before.
One is forced to ask the question – surely those who made the decision to send these refugees to Kakuma 3 Block 8 and 9, while charged with their safety, must have known the risks? This clearly plays into the belief that they were purposely placed in a zone that was so unsafe it was highly probable they would be attacked, dispersed, injured or even killed.This confusion is now heightened by the fact that at African Human Rights Coalition we have now received reports stating that the Kenyan police at Kakuma ordered the LGBTI members who had been relocated by UNHCR into the Kakuma community to leave Kakuma “or else be arrested and jailed for up to 14 years.” Kenya is a proven hostile host to LGBTQI refugees.Notably this has occurred mere months after the Kenyan High Court refused to decriminalize homosexuality, and so when LGBTI refugees arrive in Kenya from neighboring criminalizing countries they continue to be viewed as demonic, depraved and criminal.
The milieu for LGBTI refugees in Africa is fraught with open and flagrant hostility and dangers that mirror that which they so desperately sought to escape. What has occurred in Kakuma paints an ominous picture and one that screams for totally different solutions. If criminalization leads to stigma, ostracization and violence, how can one seek protection in a host country that exudes and exacerbates just that? Criminalization -stigma- ostracization – violence! FULL ARTICLE HERE
Allegations that UNHCR refusing water to attacked LGBTI Refugees at Kakuma Gate
January 1, 2020
African Human Rights Coalition is requesting Urgent Assistance and Investigations : Welcoming 2020 we see no help in sight? For the past 9 days, with thanks to the generosity of a volunteer and board member of African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC) food, water, juices and medicine have been provided to approximately 50 LGBTQI refugees stuck without protection and resources at at the UNHCR gates of Kakuma Reception Center.
For 9 days they have been ignored and remain without any assistance at all from UNHCR and local authorities. If the report I am posting below from the refugees proves to be correct, it would seem that not only has UNHCR failed to provide resources and protection since the attack by straight Sudanese refugees that sent them running to the gates, but that the belief that UNHCR staffers at the Center actually knowingly sent them into danger may well be true, highlighted now by the allegation that UNHCR has ordered the refugees at the gate be denied water.
I know from sources that last week, after I wrote the article explaining the refugee plight, high ranking officials at UNHCR in Geneva had read the article. In addition African HRC has written to UNHCR requesting help for the refugees with no response to date. We are hopeful that one official who is not based or responsible for Kakuma will help by also forwarding the information about those who are ill to Kakuma officials forthwith. However we still await help!
The Article which I wrote a week ago – just before Xmas- Kenya proves it can no longer Host LGBTI Refugees due to Escalating Violence, notes:
XMAS DAY:- ‘Two nights ago, while asleep for the first time in their new shelters at Kakuma in Kenya, LGBTI refugees were attacked and robbed. They were told to flee or they would be killed. Some ran for the bushes with 2 still missing and approximately 47 others risked camping outside the Reception Center in the hope that they may finally receive some real protection and security. Two refugees were arrested while allegedly trying to obtain water in an non-permitted zone. At the time of writing this, and after several requests for urgent attention during holiday time, other than receiving food as orchestrated by Marc Cohen of African Human Rights Coalition (African HRC), we have yet to see any help or protection. The situation is dire and the refugees remain in grave danger. We are now also hearing of more refugees within the camp who may have to escape their shelters under fear of pending attacks.”
As there has still be no response from UNHCR and an allegation of denial of water, I am posting below the direct words of one of the refugees expressed through an e-mail to us, in the hope that UNHCR will answer to this, correct any misunderstandings and actually provide water and other urgent resources such as shelter, food and medicine.
As noted by a refugee:
“I have written this email to inform you about our plight camping outside the reception center after being attacked by the hostile Sudanese during late night and our houses being rooted plus all our stuff in the community that we were given by UNHCR KENYA and NCCK on 21st December 2019.
We have so far spent 9 days sleeping in a cold and up to now we haven’t got any call from UNHCR apart from being denied resources by G4S who say that they are working on the orders of UNHCR KENYA.
We have always been getting some water from the reception and our colleagues inside have been bringing it to us without any resistance from the G4S officials.
Today 1st 2020, some G4S officials have warned us not to risk sending someone to get us water otherwise he/she will face it rough. They further said that they have received new orders from UNHCR and they have been told not to allow any person to bring us water from the reception. My question of worry is, how are we going to survive without water?
So we call upon UNHCR KENYA to change this statement as soon as possible in order to save the lives of I and my fellow vulnerable refugees sleeping in a cold outside the reception center.”
Also…… “yesterday 31st of December 2019, an attack was made on some of our colleagues in the nearest trading center since they had gone to buy some refreshments to make them pass through the old year and get into the new year. They were attacked and one of them (….) was beaten up terribly and imprisoned for being homosexual.
He says he was beaten up by both the community and the police officers as well because of being a gay. Currently speaking I went to the police and I had to pay some money for the release of our colleague but his condition wasn’t good at all. Up to now, this young man is still undergoing much pain due to the mob Justice he was passed through yesterday ."
In addition Malaria is proving to be a great danger for those sleeping outside the Refugee Reception Center Gates as can be seen from below pictures where pools of muddy still water near the gates attract mosquitos. We are advised that refugees have had their mosquito nets stolen and those who have contracted malaria are self medicating with medications we have paid for.
Reiterating that Kenya is a hostile host for LGBTQI refugees and that the international LGBTQI community needs to step up to the plate as reflected in my Article, ” Kenya proves it can no longer Host LGBTI Refugees due to Escalating Violence,” I again am imploring on UNHCR to take immediate action pending longer term solutions to URGENTLY protect, shelter and feed those LGBTQI refugees at the Kakuma Gate Reception Center, as well as answer to whether or not it is true that LGBTQI refugees are being denied water by UNHCR staff.
Kenya Unsafe as Turkana Mob Attacks LGBTI Refugees In Kakuma
January 1, 2020
As reported last month UNHCR and Kenya seem unable to protect LGBTI refugees from the very violence they escaped when seeking exile. When reading the direct account of an horrific violent mob attack by Turkana locals on LGBTI refugees at Kakuma it is clearly only a matter of time before gays, lesbian and transgender people people of concern (POC) are killed.
From all the reports we are receiving at African HRC hostility is clearly building on a daily basis and the situation is a powder keg!
I am reporting in the words of a refugee who was attacked and injured yesterday:
This is a report and at the same time my statement and personal account about the two incidents of homophobic nature against us the LGBTIQ P.O.Cs in Kakuma camp today, 31st December, 2019.In the morning at about 10am, I exited the kakuma camp reception centre with permission from the G4S security personnel who guard the premises with the intention to take my cellphone to the charging shop in the trading centre to have it charged like we always do.
Upon my exit, I walked over to my fellow LGBTIQ members (just about 20 meters opposite the camp reception main gate) who have been camping outside the reception centre gate lately. Ever since they started sleeping out at the gate (after the attacks in the community) I usually go check on them with other fellow LGBTIQ refugees, sometimes I share with them some money to to top up on the supplies they need, just like other fellow LGBTIQ refugees do.But between 10am and 11am, as i was still seated on the ground alongside my fellow refugees just opposite the main gate, a number of Turkana locals started walking about and speaking their local language which I dont understand. And in about 5 minutes, their number had grown. I realised late that they were mobilising in a way and were swarming around me and some few other refugees.
The rest of the LGBTIQ refugees walked away and I remained stranded with 3 other Transgender people. We were sitting on a mat laid on the ground under the shed of a tree. The locals were holding tools like spades, hoes, axes and sticks. Sat first I thought they were passing by going to a construction site nearby, but I was wrong. They swarmed around and started threatening us to leave their land in swahili language and kept on wielding the tools and insulting us with words like “Shoga” ( which is a known insult for gay people in the local Swahili dialect [equivalent to “faggot”]).
I was stuck and we remained in the same position as they did their rounds us and casting threats. I knew that if we made any move it would provoke them. Eventually they caught the attention of the G4S security guards from across the road at the camp reception main gate and this somehow saved us. Eventually two other random men came and spoke to them in their local language and convinced them to leave us alone. This is when they started walking away one by one and after I managed to walk way and take my cellphone to the shop to charge.The other incident happened later on, when I had gone to pick up my cellphone from the charging shop in the trading centre.
This was roughly at about 4pm. When I walked back to the trading centre to pick up my cellphone from charging, before I was even able to actually reach the charging shop, I started hearing people shouting in swahili;“Wuyo ni shoga… wuwa wuyo shoga… mupiige” – Which literally translates; ” that one is a homosexual, kill that homosexual…. beat him”I looked back and a number of locals were moving towards me and throwing stones. I tried to run away but they got to me before I could escape and break free. They started beating me with sticks and kicking me all over. It went on for a while as I tried to break free but in vain. I struggled and yelled out for help and for a moment a policeman came and intervened, I saw him and he had another policeman behind him.
They tried to calm down the mob that was beating me up but they were outnumbered and eventually they failed and were pushed away, I could not see them anymore. Even women were pelting me with stones as I tried to flee but I was surrounded. They were shouting and calling out for the others to bring petrol. I was so horrified as they kept kicking me in opposite directions to keep me in the centre of the circle and yelling out to bring fuel/petrol.However, as I tried to push to one side of the crowd to squeeze through, somehow I felt someone grabbing me by the shoulder and pushing me forward. When I looked it was a fellow LGBTIQ refugee called XXXXXXXX (the one who was filming the morning incident while hiding).
He had gathered up afew LGBTIQ refugees from a nearby restaurant and they had co.e to rescue me. They dragged me through the crowd and fought on my side while dragging me through the angry mob. They were pelted with stones and beaten with sticks too but they had no weapons so they fought back with their bare hands and fists until eventually they managed to get me out of the trading centre to the main gate at the reception centre.It is during this scuffle that we lost track of YYYYYY. All the attention was on me and somehow YYYYYYY was whisked away by the angry mob and was stuck and left behind. I was not aware of his situation since I was not there in person anymore.
But when I got to reception centre, shortly after the Police came to the gate and handed over YYYYYY who was beaten and had a swollen face. This is when YYYYYYY narrated his ordeal to me. But I personally heard the police man saying that “Shogas are not allowed to be in Kenya and that they should leave or else they wi be killed in this Turkana land” he said so at the maingate and he said it aloud and everyone heard.
Pictorial of Homophobic Mob Attack in Kakuma
January 2, 2020
To see screenshots of 2 videos sent to us documenting a Turkana Homophobic mob attack on a LGBTI refugee at Kukuma, Kenya. This is one of many and escalating attacks occurring at the area of the refugee camp in Kenya. Gay, lesbian and transgender refugees from surrounding countries who have sought UNHCR protection in Kenya have arrived to find themselves unprotected and unsafe and subject to ongoing attacks by Turkana, local residents and hosts of the land, in this hostile host country. The LGBTI refugees from surrounding criminalizing countries have become subject to mob attacks, as the photos will show.
They are enduring the very persecution they ran away from in their own countries. This has been exacerbated by malaria and the denial of water and food.
These refugees, termed ‘people of concern’ (POC), many of whom are yet to receive refugee documentation, are trapped. They cannot move freely away from this area because they will be arrested by Kenyan police for being undocumented or not having requisite permissions to move about the country freely. They will then endure torture, as many have done, in Kenya’s homophobic jails. When they were sent into Kakuma 3, they were placed among a group of straight refugees from Sudan, who are known by UNHCR and Kenyan authorities to be anti-LGBT and ready to attack. They did. In the dead of night and calling the refugees “shoggas” (Swahili term for faggot), wanted the refugees that unless they left their land, they would be killed.
It is clear the Turkana do not want them there. And Kenya and UNHCR are failing to protect!
The attack occurred days before XMAS, (our report HERE) sending the newly sheltered LGBTI refugees scurrying for safety into the scorpion and snake ridden bushes to hide, with over 50 showing up at the Reception Center Gates, only to be set up for starvation and deprived of water. After you view these pictures below – showing evidence of one of many attacks, and this one on an individual, please read the 2 articles posted below where I note that Kenya and UNHCR cannot protect LGBTI individuals and the desperate plea by LGBTI refugees for protection, food and a viable plan!
EVIDENCE- school down through screenshots from the 2 videos, no particular sequence: PICTURES HERE
In summary we request the following:
URGENT shelter, protection and food for LGBTQI refugees at Kakuma Reception Center gate
Investigation and action regarding the allegation and denial of water at Reception gate to LGBTQI refugees
Investigation into the Pre-Xmas attack on newly placed LGBTQI refugees in Zone 3 Block 8 and 9 and the allegation that UNHCR /officials purposely placed LGBTQI to face danger among community of heterosexual hostile Sudanese
Long term shelter and planning for LGBTQI throughout Kenya, including those who are also being attacked and jailed from outside Kakuma, to include Nairobi
Long term planning to find new routes for LGBTQI refugees escaping violence based on SOGI
African HRC has no funding to continue this humanitarian relief: donate: www.africanhrc.org/donate
PICTURES (C) Copyright African HRC 2020- cannot be reproduced without permission.