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Police order 76 gay refugees back to homophobic camp or be killed

Police order 76 gay refugees back to homophobic camp or be killed

LGBTI refugees have been attacked in Kenya | Photo: Supplied

Police ordered 76 gay refugees back to a homophobic camp in Kenya or be killed.

Gun-wielding police threatened a vulnerable group of LGBTI safety-seekers in Nairobi.

The group were living in temporary accommodation in the capital after fleeing a refugee camp.

Two buses turned up, without warning. Police frogmarched many, including children, onto the buses for a 14-hour journey.

Kakuma camp, in north-western Kenya, was the place where many people faced assaults for their sexual or gender identity.

One refugee, who has asked to remain anonymous, told Gay Star News if they ‘stepped out of line, [we] would be killed’.

The UN refugee agency said the Kenyan government had decided to return the group back to the camp.

Gay refugees ordered back to homophobic camp in Kenya

two photos. one on the left is a close up of a man's face with blood pouring down it. the photo on the right is a group of people, some of which are wearing rainbow masks and holding placards on pink paper
Mbazira Moses (L) was attacked after the LGBTI community staged a protest in the Kakuma Refugee Camp (R) | Photo: Supplied

Towards the end of 2018, LGBTI people were told by the administration that they would not be protected.

Richard de Luchi, a human rights defender, is working with LGBTI refugees.

He explains that in places like Uganda, many may make their way to Kenya for hopes of a better life.

But applying for refugee status and resettlement means a long wait, with interviews paced at six monthly periods but frequently delayed.

He said: ‘In Kenya, LGBT+ refugees are subject to the brutality of the state and its agents, as well as by the host community and fellow refugees.

‘Employment is very difficult to find or keep, because of strict labour laws applying to non-Kenyans.

‘No funding comes at present from the UNHCR for LGBT+ refugees.

‘Sex work is often the only means of keeping body and soul together.

‘Women, in particular, are subject to violence; the result of cultural sexism and an inability to understand lesbianism.

‘Health problems, often serious, are the lot of almost every LGBT+ refugee, with minimal care available from hospitals and clinics.

‘The medical profession seems as prejudiced as everyone else.’

Has the UN failed to act? 

Some refugees have questioned why the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has done little to help so far.

The office previously apologized after being accused of ‘neglect, collusion and inaction’.

‘The safety and security of all refugees is of the utmost importance to us,’ a UNHCR spokesperson said in response.

‘Our Nairobi office is working to secure resettlement for as many LGBTI refugees in Kenya as possible. In the last part of 2018, we submitted more than 100 LGBTI cases for resettlement from Nairobi and have submitted approximately 150 further cases for consideration so far this year.

‘However, resettlement is not possible for all who request it. We are actively advocating with resettlement countries to specifically increase the number of LGBTI refugee cases they are willing to receive.’

The UNHCHR added they also remain ‘steadfastly committed’ to ensuring LGBTI refugees are able to live without fear.’

See also

Gay refugees are being attacked in supposed ‘safe havens’ in Kenya