In December, the U.N. refugee agency moved more than 200 gay refugees from dangers of Kakuma refugee camp to safety in crowded, unsanitary quarters in Nairobi.
The UNHCR were only able to come up with a small compound consisting of 11 rooms in total to house over 200 refugees. The current safe shelter is not designed to accommodate 200 people and has only 5 bathrooms all in an unsanitary state. While we understand that this is all that may be available given the emergency transfer, it is hard to imagine that a better more accommodating plan cannot be made soon.
If this persists it will be clear that UNHCR in Kenya either lacks the resources or has failed to properly apply such resources to accommodate the LGBTI refugees. This must change. The conditions under which the refugees are living at this time are inhumane and untenable and is a set up for further disaster through health hazard and other problems if allowed to persist.
UNHCR must make special provisions for LGBTI refugees: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex transgender refugees have no choice but to cross borders into countries which are hostile hosts. It is for this reason that UNHCR in Geneva must find more resources and create safe shelter compounds for LGBTI refugees. This should be occurring in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and other countries.
Those “other countries” should include the United States, South Africa, and nations in Western Europe, and Austalasia.
The U.N. decision to move the LGBTI refugees came on 13 December, when the UNHCR announced it would remove them from Kenya’s huge Kakuma Camp where they have repeatedly been targets of violent attacks by other refugees and nearby residents.
Kakuma Camp “does not provide a safe environment for LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers,” said a UNHCR spokeswoman.
The announcement came in the wake of an attack on 20 to 30 LGBT refugees at the UN refugee agency compound, where they were seeking relief from dangerous and inhumane conditions at Kakuma Camp.
The U.S.-based African Human Rights Coalition is currently working on a proposal to improve the conditions that the LGBTI refugees are enduring. It is not an option for Nairobi-based refugees to be expected to live separately on their own in rented premises for many reasons. In the past this had led to further persecution.
Kenya is a hostile host for LGBTQ refugees and without UNHCR’s protection LGBTI individuals are subject to the very persecution they suffered in their home countries which led them to seek asylum and refuge options through Kenya. If forced out onto the Nairobi streets, each refugee is on their own. Barely able to survive on UNHCR related stipends, they are thus often forced into dangerous sex work. This is not a solution and no refugee should be subjected to such dangers and any circumstances, least of all those who are gay, lesbian or trans.
From the African Human Rights Media Network
As we have said before in Exit, send the presidential plane to Nairobi and bring these suffering people to safety on South Africa.
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