A desperate Ugandan LGBTQ refugee committed suicide outside the U.N. refugee agency in Nairobi today after he failed to win financial assistance there, LGBTQ activists in Kenya report.
The suicide comes at a time when the HIAS refugee support organization and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been cutting back the minimal financial assistance that LGBTQ refugees in Nairobi have received in the past.
This cutback is in line with the Kenyan government’s policy that all refugees must be located in refugee camps such as the huge Kakuma Camp, where LGBTQ refugees make up a small, persecuted minority of the population of about 500,000.
“This is true. It happened. So traumatizing,” one Kenyan activist stated in response to the news of the suicide. Photos of the hanged man were posted online but are not being published as part of this article.
These services are available to assist readers who are deeply affected by the news of the suicide:
- Kenya Helpline: email@example.com
- USA Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255
- Trevor Project USA: 1-866-488-7386.
Ugandan LGBTQ refugee Aneste Mweru sought asylum in Kenya in January 2017 and his refugee status was recognized by Kenyan authorities in March 2019, the African Human Rights Coalition stated.
According to refugee activists, Mweru hoped to get help from UNHCR today even though the agency was closed for the Easter Monday holiday. He had a confrontation with police and guards working for G4S Security Services, was assaulted by them, and then hanged himself from a nearby tree, they said.
UNHCR said that Kenyan police are investigating the incident, AHRC stated.
Mbazira Moses, controversial leader of the Refugee Flag Kenya advocacy group, reported:
Today April 13th, is the saddest Easter Monday to the LGBT refugee community living in Nairobi. After being continuously frustrated and ignored by UN protection officers. Aneste Mweru decided to hung himself by the tree at UNHCR offices Nairobi at around 10am. His lifeless body has been sent to the pathologist for a postmortem. (Eye witnesses say he was badly assaulted by G4S and police and therefore the postmortem report should independently be done and made public.)
Friends say that Aneste woke up today in very bad moods and wanted some assistance. He travelled to UNHCR confident that he would be assisted. Since Easter Monday is a public holiday most UNHCR officers were out on holiday enjoying life with their loved ones during this lock down period.
He was ordered by G4S to disappear or face it rough as usual. Aneste responded by saying he was not moving an inch and needed assistance. G4S and police usually have orders from their superiors to beat, [maim] or even kill if their orders are disobeyed.
Aneste was roughed up and badly assaulted. In so much pain, he crawled to the nearest tree, climbed it and hanged himself so that he could free himself from the extreme pain he had suffered.
UNHCR issued this statement:
“We, at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, are profoundly shocked and saddened by the tragic death and apparent suicide of a refugee today in Nairobi.
Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends. We ask everyone to kindly respect his dignity and the dignity and privacy of his family, and to desist from circulating pictures of the deceased.
The deceased person, a Ugandan national was recognized as a refugee by the Government of Kenya.
We are in close contact with the Kenyan police, who have launched an investigation to clarify the circumstances surrounding his death.
UNHCR is also in regular contact with the refugee community and relevant authorities to ensure that any required support is provided and to prevent the spread of misinformation.
UNHCR is concerned about the growing challenges faced by refugees and asylum-seekers as well as communities hosting them, in meeting their basic needs in the current difficult context.
UNHCR will continue to do its utmost to deliver critical protection and assistance to the nearly 500,000 refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya, especially during these challenging times.”
- Kenya: LGBTQ refugees face cutbacks; how to respond (February 2020, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya: Call for probe of U.N. agency as anti-gay attacks continue (January 2020, 76crimes.com)
- LGBT refugees in Kenya: Repeatedly attacked but unable to leave (December 2019, 76crimes.com)
- Roundup of 76 gay African refugees: Desperate, dangerous, confusing times
- U.N. plan for gay refugees: same abuse, new location? (December 2018, 76crimes.com)
- U.N.: We’re moving LGBT refugees out of unsafe Kakuma Camp (December 2018, 76crimes.com)
- Violence greets protesting LGBT refugees in Kenya (December 2018, 76crimes.com)
- Kenya: Death threats follow refugees’ successful Pride (June 2018, 76crimes.com)
- Flooding endangers LGBTI Ugandan refugees in Kenya (May 2018, 76crimes.com)
- Food shortages, violence still plague LGBTI refugees
- Desperate LGBT refugees seek a way out, though it’s ‘suicidal’ (September 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Ugandan trans woman flees to Kenya, finds ‘complete hell’(June 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Prison for 17 protesting Ugandan refugees in Kenya (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Pictures of Police Using Force on LGBTI Refugees in Kenya outside UNHCR gates (May 2017, O-blog-dee blog)
- Kenya arrests LGBTI refugees, sends them into danger (May 2017, 76crimes.com)
- I escaped death in Uganda. Now I’m a sex worker in Kenya (March 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Out of Kampala’s frying pan, into Nairobi’s fire (September 2016, 76crimes.com)