kakuma refugee camp refugees kenya
Photo: Matija Kovak.
International, News

Refugees plead for evacuation from anti-LGBTIQ attacks in Kenya

LGBTIQ people living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya have called for help as they face ongoing violence.

Chriton ‘Trinidad’ Atuhwera, aged 22, died in April one month after sustaining injuries in a fire-bombing attack on the camp.

Atuhwera was a poet and volleyball player who had fled homophobic and transphobic stigma and violence in his home country of Uganda.

Amnesty International thanked Kenya for its commitment to housing LGBTIQ refugees but called for law enforcement in the country to urgently investigate Atuwera’s killing.

The organisation also called for an independent review of the current and proposed UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Refugee Affair Secretariat protection and safety measures given to refugees, especially sexual monitories. 

“Until the killers of Chriton Atuhwera have been placed in a court of law and camp security measures improve, both the Government of Kenya and UNHCR must continue to be held accountable for the safety lapse that has claimed his life,” said Amnesty International in a statement. 

“We remind both agencies and the public that this killing took place after a series of attacks and complaints had been reported by refugees.”

Emmanuel Kiyimba, a gay Ugandan living in the camp, said that Atuhwera had been a “leading example” for Kakuma residents.

“Being LGBT+ in the camp is the biggest trauma I have ever experienced,” said Kiyimba.

Most of the LGBTIQ refugees in the camp live together in Block 13, which has been repeatedly targeted.

Other African LGBTIQ refugees have been forced to move out of the camp due to violence, living in the surrounding town or the capital of Nairobi.

“We strongly need more awareness around the world to call up more people, governments, and organizations [to] join us,” Lucretia, another Ugandan resident of the camp, told Pink Advocate.

“[We] implore [the] UNHCR [to] act and protect our lives by evacuating us to a safe place immediately.”

Another refugee said that LGBTIQ people in the camp continue to face sexual violence, threats, and attacks, and some are forced to sleep outside where they are more vulnerable.

No update is yet available on evacuation of the refugees or any investigation into the March attack on the camp that killed Atuhwera.

Refugees are using the hashtag #FreeBlock13Kakuma on social media to tell the world about their ongoing dangerous situation.

“We’re dying, being discriminating [against], brutalising us because of being LGBTIQ trans, gays, lesbians and more. We need your voice,” tweeted one resident.

Supporters are posting with the hashtags #SolidarityWithBlock13Kakuma, #SolidarityKakumaLGBTQ, and #Justice4Trinidad to call attention to the plight of the refugees.

The UNHCR is being petitioned to urgently evacuate LGBTIQ refugees to Nairobi.

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