These days, the world convulses with violence and sorrows of all sorts. One that is most heartbreaking is the reality of refugees. Whether fleeing violence in Syria, poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, violence in Myanmar or Central America, refugees have been largely left to their own devices. This makes their plight harder and unfair. In particular, I hope my readers will look into the violence and indifference faced by LGBTQ refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
Kakuma already has a notorious reputation as a dangerous and overcrowded camp. It spreads out in Northern Kenya with nearly 60,000 people, far more than it was designed to hold. LGBTQ refugees there have faced violence from other refugees and from the Kenyan police who should protect them. They have experienced beatings and had their belongings stolen and burned. The violence visited on them has come from others in the camp as well as the Kenyan police. Human rights advocates are calling for their immediate evacuation from the camp. The point is that they, and all refugees, deserve refuge. They need and deserve a place to live in safety and peace.
In December of 2018 and in early 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) evacuated them by plane and bus because of the violence. But the UNHCR returned them to the camp and now they face violence again. At present, there are approximately 135 LGBTQ refugees in Kakuma Block 13. Most of them are from Uganda but some are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They need to be evacuated from Kakuma so they can get the “refuge” they deserve. The UNHCR has an agreement with the Kenyan government but both have refused to find a truly safe place for these people. There are many reports of police ignoring calls to Block 13 or of the police only coming hours after the calls were made. This leaves these vulnerable people in grave danger.
I learned about this situation via Victor Mukasa. Victor is a Ugandan human rights activist and an expert and advocate in the plight of LGBTQ refugees. He has set up a GoFundMe site to assist these people and I urge you to consider helping his work.
What can we do? Ask the UNHCR to immediately evacuate all the LGBTQ refugees from Block 13 in Kakuma Refugee Camp. We can email the UNHCR, comment on the UNHCR’s social media sites. They have a presence on facebook and you can make comments there. Ask them to evacuate and protect these people who live in such danger. We can also donate to the GoFundMe site here. You can also read more here in a Washington Post article by Max Bearak.
Refugees are the most vulnerable people in the world and LGBTQ refugees are in even more danger than others. Please read more about this unfolding crisis and help as you are able.
The photograph above was taken by Wavamuno Benon.