Using tear gas and batons, Kenyan police disbanded a sit-in of about 60 LGBTIQ* refugees outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kakuma, Kenya, late last week.

Demonstrators had been outside the UNHCR office since April 27th, calling for rapid resettlement to LGBTIQ*-friendly countries, or at least greater security in the Kakuma refugee camp where the majority of queer asylum seekers and refugees live.

In doing so, the protesters violated a COVID-19 curfew, which is why they would have been warned by UNHCR and others that the assembly would endanger their own health and that of others.

However, since the protesters did not disperse, the UNHCR called the police. This was revealed in a video posted on Facebook by Doreen Andrewz, a transgender rights and refugee advocate, on May 4.

It is a familiar situation. Due to the Corona pandemic, all resettlement, i.e. relocation of refugees to other regions or countries where they are less at risk, was suspended at the end of March 2020 – for safety’s sake.

This what happened to us as LGBTI member who had gone to seek protection from UNHCR KENYA-KAKUMA.. UNHCR ordered Kenyan police to beat us and forcefully take us back to the Homophobic community.. Men, women en Children were so much hurt…UNHCR is responsible for the hurt caused to the LGBTIQ members.. We asked them to give us permission so that we can return to our country en dies from there instead of dying from Kenya- KakumaWe will overcomeLGBTI FRATERNITYWith God everything is possible

Gepostet von Lgbti Kakuma Camp am Freitag, 1. Mai 2020

 

However, the demonstrators face completely different dangers in the camp. According to their own statements, a lesbian living in the camp had been attacked and raped by Sudanese men. One of the arrested Sudanese suspects had been beaten and abused so badly by the police that he died in hospital.

Immediately after the man’s funeral, the Sudanese refugees attacked the LGBTIQ* community, with pangas and knives in their hands,

“Because we were the reason their brother was arrested and killed. We rallied and ran to the UNHCR office in Kakuma for protection.”

 

Unacceptable conditions

According to the UNHCR website, 196,050 registered refugees and asylum seekers were living in the Kakuma refugee camp at the end of March 2020. Among the refugees are also hundreds of queer refugees from homophobic East African countries who are exposed to increased risk. The latest threat follows a series of violent attacks on the queer community in Kakuma refugee camp (we reported).

“If you read the direct report of a horrific violent mob attack by Turkana locals on LGBTI refugees in Kakuma,” Melanie Nathan, human rights lawyer and executive director of the U.S.-based African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC), stated as early as January of this year, it is “clearly only a matter of time before gays, lesbians and transgender people are killed.

“From all the reports we receive from the AHRC, it is clear that the hostility is increasing significantly every day and the situation is a powder keg!”.

The UNHCR and the Kenyan government appear “unable to protect LGBTI refugees from the violence they have escaped in their search for exile,” Nathan continued.

In the current case, the police have at least announced that they will strengthen security measures and set up a helpline number where any incidents can be reported 24 hours a day. Since it is rumoured everywhere that not only other refugees but also the organisers of the camps themselves were involved in the past attacks, it is to be hoped that the police, but above all the UNHCR, will live up to its role.

 

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