The Ugandan refugees have been facing a difficult period for two years, as it wasn’t enough living the trauma of being abandoned by their own family, friends, religion, community and govern. Today LGBT people asking asylum in Kenya as refugees, have to face the UNHCR’s implementing partner and the famous HIAS’ uncertainties.
Every year hundreds of people are forced to emigrate from Uganda to countries that are more tolerant as Kenya. Even with few resources, they start the travel to escape from discrimination’s violence. In the last few years, the problems with the residence permits granted by the UN have been increasing, also the funds to support these people are about to finish. It is a real emergency for the LGBT community that despite the sacrifices, it cannot leave peacefully. Hundreds of people seeking asylum in Kenya suffer every year a double threat: both from the community where they live, and from the organization that should grant them help.
Many LGBT people in Kenya, under UNHCR protection, have been thrown out their own home and dormitory where they live, they starve, and some of them have been even imprisoned.
Currently, hundreds of aids to the gay community have been suddenly cut because of unclear speculations. The money that have been initially made available to buy food or pay rents are no longer available, and the refugees asking asylum are blackmailed.
On the ninth day of the month, day in which payments occur, many people have been thrown out their home because they did not pay. Some of them has to do sex jobs to pay and to find money for foods.
International LGBT Support asks, as other associations, the international community and other supporters, to help UNHCR in Kenya identify some organizations who might take care of LGBT people and give them a concrete support to keep them away from prejudices. These people have difficulties in finding a job that allows them to support themselves financially because of homophobia. For these reason they need to be protected.
Currently, hundreds of LGBT refugees in Kenya are worried about their future because of the intimidations that Kenya has been doing: it threatens to close the huge refugee camps that hosts 400.000 people escaped from wars and violence in all Africa. Many refugees coming from Uganda escaped from anti- gay violence .The homosexual refugees are 55.000 in Kakuma, in the north west of the country. Another part of them is in Nairobi. They fight for their survival: they have a limited or null income, and they hope to obtain the resettlement in order to be sent abroad.
Kenya’s government has said many times that it wants to close all the refugee camps and, while the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) asks Kenya to change its mind and decision, information about how the government thinks to face a potential serious crisis are waited. The obvious question arises, where will all these people be collocated? Who will take care of them?
LGBT displaced people after reading the newspapers’ titles, are concerned: they are worried, and anxiety is generating a lot of stress. This uncertainty is not pleasant; they do not know what is going to happen in their future. How will the UNHCR behave? How will they manage to survive and support themselves financially? Who will take care of them if the organization is going to withdraw their funding?
If the refugee camps will close the consequences will be felt in particular by the people who escaped from region devastated by wars in Somalia and Sudan. These people are threatened again by the country that hosts them, that is building a wall, preventing them from building a future. Moreover, even if they are a particularly small part of the population, there are also the people who escaped from the Anti-Homosexuality laws and social persecutions in different African countries.
Kenyan refugee camps host almost 300 LGBT refugees, both who have already obtained a mandate and who are still waiting for it. They come mostly from Uganda, but also Ruanda, Ethiopia and DR Congo.
In this moment, luckily, UHNCR still runs these cases and the majority of LGBT refugees are no longer in the camps: they live in urban areas as Nairobi. However, there is someone who still lives in Kakuma camp.
Refugees have to wait at least two years to be recognised legitimately a LGBT refugees, in order to be resettled abroad. Currently the refugees with the highest score have been sent to some European countries, Canada, USA, and Iceland. Their survival in Kenya, waiting for the resettlement, have been extremely difficult. HIAS (the international organization for refugees’ migration and resettling was founded in 1881 and it was known as the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society) has been providing salaries for urban refugees and their support. However, several months ago they were informed that salaries will no longer be provided in 2016. Today this news generate uncertainty and a strong emotional stress in the community.
Small groups of LGBT refugees have been formed in order to create small companies in the urban areas, hoping to give them an income, which can support them in their future lives. However, it is very unlikely that this small companies will manage to survive to the behaviour of the police against the urban refugees of Kenya. It seems clear that that the refugees are not welcome in Kenya, and the government does not seem to intend honouring the UN protection for the refugees. In the previous years, many LGBT refugees have subjected to oppressions and brutalities by the security forces and we do not know where all these things will lead. The international homosexual community has to start preparing itself, doing a fundraising that will use in emergency cases to provide as a support to the refugees. Only in this way, they will be able to face the emergency on its beginning.
On May 6th, the Ministry of Interior announced that, because of the too much tax cuts and environmental loads, and some security problems, he had disbanded the Department of Refugees Affairs and he was working on a possible strategy to close permanently the camps. We hope to have more information as soon as possible about UNHCR intends to face the situation of extreme emergency, including the plans he wants to realize to support the LGBT refugee’s population.
We want to remember that in the meantime, there is a big concern for the financial needs of the homosexual refugees and we are preparing ourselves to an uncertain future. HIAS has already announced the funds in all the urban areas will be frozen. Currently, the migration from the neighbouring countries has stopped and the UNHCR is not recording new arrivals. Kenya’s government has asked the refugees to keep calm, but news about the maintenances are still missing.
We hope the negotiations, leaded by UNHCR with the Kenyan government, will find a prompt solution.
International LGBTI Support remembers that it has been trying to push the European Parliament to face the problem with the UN for two years. The aim is to give space to the Kenyan and Senegalese refugees’ problem, in order to improve their condition activating adequate support’s procedures and facilitating the application for the papers needed for the resettling. If someone wants to support us in this work, we will appreciate him/her help.
Human Rights First and HIAS, UHNCR have provided information and figures.
International LGBTI Support
Alice Bazzan (Email : firstname.lastname@example.org )