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Update on Kakuma Fire Injuring LGBTQI Refugees

Then following is the latest in several UNHCR updates regarding the condition of two LGBTQI refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, who were burned in a fire where arson, under investigation, is suspected:

"Update on the situation of the two persons who suffered burn injuries in the 15 March 2021 fire in Kakuma: As notified in our last update, the two were transferred to a regional hospital in Lodwar on 16 March where progress on their recovery was closely monitored by the local medical team as well as a UNHCR doctor. Although their condition remains stable, yesterday evening a determination was made by these doctors, including a senior burn injury specialist, that the patients should be transferred to Nairobi for further treatment. It is important to note that Kenya, like many other countries around the world, is grappling with a worsening COVID-19 health crisis which is seriously challenging the capacity of medical facilities across the country. This notwithstanding, in collaboration with national health authorities, UNHCR identified space for the two persons early today and they were transferred from Lodwar to Nairobi by air ambulance this afternoon.

UNHCR is aware of the commentary on social media in respect of the situation of these two patients. We wish to emphasize that they have received the best care available since being admitted to the Kakuma hospital and their situation has been closely monitored by hospital and UNHCR medical personnel throughout their convalescence. All decisions regarding their ongoing treatment have been taken based on what would be in their best interests according to the consensus opinion of the doctors who have monitored the evolution of their recovery over the past four days.

We wish to note once again that all costs associated with their transfer, treatment and hospital stay will be covered by UNHCR, in line with our mandate. We strongly suggest that anyone who is considering donating to the various online fundraising efforts which proport to be initiated on behalf of the two patients should ensure that the entity receiving donations specifies the intended use of the funds and has transparent mechanisms in place to account for their end use. We provide this cautionary advice because, over the past several months, we have received multiple allegations of misuse of funds collected via similar online initiatives in support of Kakuma refugee camp residents.

This has in some cases led to serious disputes between camp residents causing some individuals to flee Kakuma in fear of their physical security, and others requiring relocation within the Kakuma camp complex for the same reasons. While UNHCR is deeply appreciative of all sincere initiatives in support of refugees, we urge all potential supporters to research donation options to ensure that you chose an entity with an established record of transparent accountability in meeting its stated goals.

Finally, we are advised that the police investigation into the cause of the 15 March fire is progressing."

African Human Rights Coalition continues to monitor the situation in Kakuma and is grateful to UNHCR for its prompt actions and oversight in this instance and also for its continued work to maintain a protection space for LGBTQI individuals under very complex circumstances. African HRC continues in its advisory to all LGBTQI persons in African countries and especially displaced persons to maintain safety through a strong measure of partnership in your self security. We wish the injured well in their recovery. Melanie Nathan,


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