LGBTI Refugees in Kenya Continue to Face Attacks

London Pride banner 2010By George Barasa

A group of 16 Ugandan LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers were recently relocated from Nairobi where they were facing various attacks and a string of security concerns to Kakuma camp in the North Western part of Kenya. The attacks were engineered by the local community through mob justice and pressurizing the local authority to have the refugees deported.

Being transferred to Kakuma was the only alternative as they were guaranteed safety upon arrival by Mrs Hester, a focal point personnel for LGBTI persons in Nairobi. However during their  first week in the camp, 15 of the recently transferred refugees were attacked by other refugees and later on arrested and allegedly tortured. 13 were released while two were charged and are currently out on bail.

According to the Ugandan refugees, the main problem they facing in their new home is the constant attack by their Turkana host and other refugees for being ‘so out’.  Most recently, two of their colleagues were seriously beaten and this maltreatment is said to have started as soon as they sent foot in the camp and sadly nothing has been done to avert the situation.

‘’After recent attacsk on two transwomen known as Miss Amooti and Miss Kenneth, we were forced to go to UNHCR and seek protection in fear for our lives. On several occasions, we have been neglected when we put forward our queries. This forced us to show up at the UNHCR in hope of receiving some redress on the matter. Unfortunately, a local police gang was ordered to beat and throw us out.  Many face permanent scars from the beating and are nursing wounds. We are so stuck,” one of the LGBT refugee leaders narrated tearfully.

It is also reported that the refugees have also tried to establish a relationship with other Ugandan refugee communities but they were accused of depicting a bad image of ‘gayism’ to their children and ordered to keep their distance.

‘’At this moment we are being looked at as people who want to expedite our resettlement process and yet all we are pleading for is safety. We have always pleaded for safe space before a life is lost and the advice we are given is to integrate with other communities which have survived there for years.  However how do we do this if other refuges want nothing to do with us?” another LGBT refugee leader queried.