In the wake of their miles-long trek last month from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, LGBTI Ugandan refugees returned to the camp with a few offers of future help. Soon after their return, the whole camp was hit by a cutback in food distribution.
The trekkers had sought protection from other refugees’ homophobic hostility and relief from the camp’s harsh conditions.
In response to their initiative, LGBTI refugees reported, UNHCR staffers and the Refugee Affairs Secretariat held several meetings with them and agreed to make some changes, including a new protection strategy for LGBTI refugees that would be developed in coordination with the refugees and implemented “in due time.”
Planned changes include assigning different personnel to work with the LGBTI community, adding and restoring security fences, and providing social support.
Officials did not agree to a request for a letter authorizing the LGBTI refugees to flee from Kenya and seek asylum elsewhere.
On Oct. 2, the U.N.’s World Food Program announced that it was running short on funds, so it cut food distributions by 30 percent — a move that came just six months after the WFP had ended an earlier food cutback. Refugees claimed that the latest cut was actually 50 percent. The WFP announced:
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will cut food rations by 30 percent for the 420,000 refugees in living in Dadaab and Kakuma camps in northern Kenya due to insufficient funding.
“We are facing a critical shortage of resources which has compelled us to reduce the amount of food given to the refugees only six months after we resumed full rations,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Annalisa Conte. “WFP urgently needs US$28.5 million to adequately cover the food assistance needs for the refugees for the next six months.”
The cutback is particularly hard on the LGBTI refugee community, refugees said, since most of them have no jobs because of anti-LGBTI discrimination and lack of security.
They said this was the monthly food and soap distribution before the cutback:
- Sorghum, 3 kilograms
- Peas, 1 kilogram
- Soap, 1 piece.
- Cooking oil, 1 liter.
WFP provides food assistance to refugees in Kenya as a combination of food (cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, and nutrient-enriched flour) and cash transfers sent via mobile phones used to buy fresh food items from local traders.
Starting this month, WFP will reduce the share of food while keeping the cash transfers unchanged. Overall, refugees living in Dadaab and Kakuma camps will receive a food ration equivalent to 70 percent of their requirements.
In addition, WFP will not provide fortified flour to the general population as the low stocks remaining will be prioritized for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers through health clinics. This may lead to a rise in levels of malnutrition among the refugees.
“Cutting rations is a last resort and we hope that it is only a short-term measure as we continue to appeal to the international community to assist,” said Conte. “An abrupt halt to food assistance would be devastating for the refugees, most of whom rely fully on WFP for their daily meals.”
WFP has provided food and cash to refugees this year thanks to the generosity of donations from Canada, China, the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), Germany, Hungary, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
LGBT refugees reached out to supporters, seeking further assistance, especially for food. The U.S-based African Human Rights Coalition continues to raise money to help them. The AHRC fund drive is HERE, with U.S. tax-deductible sponsorship provided by the Social Good Fund.
For more information, see these articles:
- Kenya: LGBTI refugees trek for protection; funds needed (Sept. 27, 2017)
- “Desperate LGBT refugees seek a way out, though it’s ‘suicidal’.” (Sept. 21, 2017)
- Desperate LGBT refugees seek a way out, though it’s ‘suicidal’ (September 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Ugandan trans woman flees to Kenya, finds ‘complete hell’
- Kenya arrests LGBTI refugees, sends them into danger (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- For gay refugee, Kenya is tough, but better than Uganda (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- I escaped death in Uganda. Now I’m a sex worker in Kenya (March 2017, 76crimes.com)
- With Trump stymied, LGBTQ refugees reach the U.S. (February 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Final flights to U.S.? Needy LGBTI refugees seek safety (February 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya: I’m homeless because of Trump’s refugee order (February 2017, 76crimes.com)
- LGBTI Refugees Hurt by Trump Ban (February 2017, O-blog-dee)
- Scarred in Uganda, LGBT refugee is about to reach safety in U.S. (January 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Out of Kampala’s frying pan, into Nairobi’s fire (September 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Ugandan Refugees and Asylum Seekers Start Self Help Project to Make Ends Meet (September 2015, Kuchu Times)