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Plea to U.N. agency: Save LGBTQ refugees from violent Kakuma Camp

Two LGBTQ advocacy organisations have called on the UN Refugee Agency to protect LGBTQ refugees experiencing violence in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

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47 LGBTQ refugees spent Christmas 2019 camping outside the Kakuma Camp reception center in hopes of avoiding violence in the camp. (Photo courtesy of the African Human Rights Coalition)

LGBTQ refugees hosted in the Kakuma Refugee Camp should be “evacuated to safety in order to save their lives”, human rights organisations said, calling on the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to protect a community experiencing “brutal attacks”.

Pan Africa ILGA and the Global Interfaith Network (GIN-SSOGIE) raised concerns over ongoing severe incidents in Block 13, which houses the largest number of LGBTQ refugees in Kakuma. According to reports, incidents began as early as in 2014, and a new spate of violence has been ongoing since June 2020.

In February 2019, LGBTQ refugees are bused back to the dangers of Kakuma Camp after being arrested during a Kenyan police roundup of refugees in Nairobi. (Photo courtesy of the O-blog-dee blog)

“Pan Africa ILGA and GIN are concerned about the growing number of tortures happening to the LGBTQ+ persons in the camp. The brutal attacks have continued to emerge for years now, and it is high time this must be addressed,” reads a statement that was released just before a meeting between UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Block 13 representatives.

“It is within the mandate of UNHCR to protect all refugees and to work with host governments to ensure that the basic human rights of all refugees are protected, promoted and respected”, Pan Africa and GIN pointed out, urging to “take all members of Block 13 to a temporary safe place as they await evacuation.” (The text above comes from ILGA’s LGBulleTin news briefs)

The two organisations listed the following attacks so far this year:

  • Beatings, slashing, rape and fire during three attacks on Jan. 25-29.
  • Destruction of a shelter, theft of children’s bedding and stoning of refugees on Feb. 13.
  • Series of stoning attacks on Feb. 13-14
  • Three-month-old baby hit with a stone on Feb. 14. Police refused to transport the injured infant to a clinic.
  • Ambulance drivers often refuse to go to Block 13.
  • Four gay men set ablaze in their bedding on Feb. 15.
  • Three gay men struck with stones on Feb. 17. Women and children fled and went into hiding.

Kakuma Refugee Camp (Photo courtesy of Pan-African ILGA)