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Kenya: LGBTI refugees trek for protection; funds needed

LGBTI refugees trek to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
LGBTI refugees trek to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

Seeking relief from the harsh conditions and homophobic hostility that LGBTI refugees endure at the Kakuma Camp in Kenya, a group of refugees trekked on foot several miles to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to ask for protection. Meanwhile, the U.S-based African Human Rights Coalition is raising money to help them.

The Trump administration’s suspension of the U.S. refugee admissions program has aggravated the situation for refugees in Kenya, as elsewhere.

South African-American activist Melanie Nathan, executive director of the AHRC, stated:

“We need help.

“We are in great need of funding to continue to support our general advocacy for 100 LGBTI refugees in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, as well as our list of refugees in Kakuma and Nairobi who have been assigned the USA for resettlement — now caught between a rock and a hard place. These LGBTI refugees went through a long arduous vetting process to be assigned the USA for resettlement. Now what? We are working with each refugee, on a case by case basis, to determine their future.

“THANK YOU for your kind support: DONATE.

LGBTI refugee in Kakuma Camp who was hurt in an altercation with Kenyan authorities.
LGBTI refugee in Kakuma Camp who was hurt in an altercation with Kenyan authorities.

The refugees’ specific concerns include:

  • Torture and bullying by other, homophobic refugees.
  • Economic distress.
  • Social exclusion and discrimination from homophobic refugees.
  • Inadequate food.
  • Inadequate medical care.
  • Lack of security.
  • Poor accommodations.
  • Delays in processing their requests for formal refugee status and resettlement.

Those issues are discussed in greater detail in the article, “Desperate LGBT refugees seek a way out, though it’s ‘suicidal’.”

Nathan said that Trump’s cutback on travel to the United States has been hard on refugees:

Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya (Photo courtesy of MaryknollSociety,org)
Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya (Photo courtesy of MaryknollSociety,org)

“The Trump administration announced new restrictions on visitors from eight countries — an expansion of the pre-existing travel ban that has spurred fierce legal debates over security, immigration and discrimination. Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were added to the expiring and now re-invoked list. The suspension of U.S. refugees continues.

“Just like the prior ban, this new ban is also discriminatory and hence unconstitutional, and adding two non-majority Muslim countries in no way mitigates the clear Trump motive — to keep Muslims out of the United States. …

“The new ban does nothing to protect the US against terrorism. The policy is simply based on lies, myth, with not a single fact to prop it up. It is just the latest in the Trump Administration’s shameful attack on immigrant communities of color.

“Here at African Human Rights Coalition we call on Americans, whether in political office or activists at grassroot levels, to look at the specific and unconscionable hardship this senseless policy has caused to all refugees, and especially already well vetted LGBTI refugees, now caught in a quagmire of legal gymnastics, which has held up their process to such an extent, that for some this could be a matter of life or death.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.


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