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Kenyan police brutally beat and lob teargas bombs at queer refugees peacefully protesting the camp’s horrific conditions

Josh Milton December 3, 2019
A trans refugee protesting the conditions of the Kakuma Refugee camp was allegedly assaulted by law enforcement. (Supplied)

A trans refugee protesting the conditions of the Kakuma Refugee camp was allegedly assaulted by law enforcement. (Supplied)

Kenyan police brutally battered LGBT+ refugees and lobbed teargas bombs in an attack that led to four in a coma today, activists on the ground have claimed.

Moreover, the organisation said that “five persons have returned to the reception centre to access these registration services.”

For days, rainbow refugees staying at the Kakuma camp un-rolled mats outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to peacefully protest the “unclean” conditions of the camp and ask to be allowed to “live quietly in Nairobi just like other urban refugees”.

But activists reported that camp law enforcement descended upon them, described as “death squads” by one protester, to “bludgeon” them.

“[They] want us dead,” alleged one trans protester.

According to them, officers teargassed them while Kakuma locals seized refugees’ “phones, documents and bags”.

Protesters in Kenya pummelled by camp police, many allegedly hospitalised and jailed.

Queer refugees in the Kenyan camp – many fleeing from neighbouring country’s vicious anti-LGBT laws – have reported being under siege from assaults in recent weeks.

Approaching boiling point, LGBT+ refugee leaders organised to leave the camp and re-locate outside the UNHCR main offices on November 28 to peacefully protest against these conditions.

According to an UNCHR statement shared to PinkNews, around 50 to 60 queer refugees are camped outside offices.

Rainbow refugees rolled-out sleeping bags and Kats outside the UNHCR main offices in Kakuma, Kenya. (Facebook)
Rainbow refugees rolled-out sleeping bags and Kats outside the UNHCR main offices in Kakuma, Kenya. (Facebook)

Refugees told PinkNews they are sleeping near bushes swarming with scorpions and snakes, small ponds of brown water being the only source of water while many go hungry.

“We are helpless,” a refugee attacked by officers, who wished to remain anonymous, told PinkNews, “we are hungry.”

Yet, Refugee Affairs Secretariat – the security body that provides protection for Kenyan refugee camps – allegedly raided the refugees’ makeshift camp today.

The organisation is under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and works with the UNHCR.

Refugee Affairs Secretariat officers allegedly dotted the dusty roads leading to near villages and beat LGBT+ refugees. (Facebook)
Refugee Affairs Secretariat officers allegedly dotted the dusty roads leading to near villages and beat LGBT+ refugees. (Facebook)

Authorities arrived on the scene on motorcycles before allegedly launching an attack as well as firing “teargas” bombs at refugees.

Officers can be seen in photographs taken on refugee’s mobiles lining the dusty roads.

Protesters were reportedly battered by officers, with one refugee suffering gaping gashes on their arm and lower torso and wounds on their back, photographs shared to PinkNews showed.

A trans protester was allegedly attacked by police, suffering a wound on his lower right torso as a result. (Supplied)
A queer protester was allegedly attacked by police, suffering a wound on their lower right torso as a result. (Supplied)

The trans protester, who fled from Uganda after his family attempted to kill him for his gender identity, later told PinkNews he thinks, “the guys [RAS] want to see us dead.”

Moreover, another activist said the incident saw “four members in a coma”, and five refugees jailed. “They are all expected to be arrested, handcuffed and directed to a police cell,” he claimed.

“The RAS death squads came with sinister plans to cause as much havoc as possible,” he said.

PinkNews contacted the RAS for comment.

Why are refugees protesting? 

Testimonies from refugees to PinkNews have detailed a camp playbook of near-weekly attacks from not only fellow refugees, but reportedly from camp organisers themselves.

Last month, a trans asylum seeker was attacked by fellow refugees just hours before a group of locals from a neighbouring town pelted stones at the LGBT+ refugees.

Kakuma, a town in northwest Kenya. (PinkNews)
Kakuma, a town in northwest Kenya. (PinkNews)

While the week before, another trans refugee had his neck cut and genitals tugged on by a similarly described “homophobic group”.

“My life is in danger,” he told PinkNews, explaining how camp paramedics only gave him “paracetamol” to treat the wounds on his neck.

Conditions in the camp have forced some LGBT+ refugees to fundraise for financial aid, as they report of “unclean” living situations and daily abuse.

A news release from UNCHR stated that, on 29 November, protesters were informed:

Refugee Affairs Secretariat will register all unregistered asylum-seekers present in Kakuma and that the data of those who are already registered will be transferred from Nairobi, regardless of whether they raised asylum claims based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity or not.

More: asylum seekers, Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, refugees, Uganda

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