UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the release of a group of refugees and asylum-seekers, including some with an LGBTI profile, who were arrested on 20 February 2019 on a misdemeanor charge under the Physical Planning Act. Their arrest followed a multi-day sit-in near UNHCR’s compound in Nairobi, Kenya. UNHCR, […]
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the release of a group of refugees and asylum-seekers, including some with an LGBTI profile, who were arrested on 20 February 2019 on a misdemeanor charge under the Physical Planning Act. Their arrest followed a multi-day sit-in near UNHCR’s compound in Nairobi, Kenya.
UNHCR, with the support of its legal partner, has been closely following the situation, providing the refugees who were detained with free legal counselling and visiting those in detention on several occasions. Those who were released are supported to meet basic needs.
Following the unconditional release of 12 individuals on 26 March, two female refugees were released on bail on 29 March, and another 12 male refugees on 1 April. Those released on bail will need to appear before the local City Court magistrate in April 2019.
UNHCR is also actively engaging with 22 asylum-seekers, who are also claiming to have an LGBTI profile and who started a sit-in protest in Kakuma in January 2019, citing protection concerns and asking for urgent relocation to Nairobi. Refugee Status Determination interviews by the Refugee Affairs Secretariat have started to determine their refugee claim and decide on their relocation to Nairobi. Despite the current refusal by some asylum seekers to engage, interviews continue for the rest of the group.
“UNHCR fully understands the challenges faced by refugees, including those with an LGBTI profile, and is working hard to ensure that all are safe, protected and that their concerns are addressed. However, we urge refugees to not contravene the laws and regulations of their country of asylum when expressing discontent. Engaging in a meaningful dialogue with refugees remains a priority for UNHCR. We remain committed to this inclusive and peaceful dialogue with refugees and to finding solutions,” said Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Kenya.
Many refugees, including those referred to above, are calling for resettlement, which is the relocation of refugees from the country of asylum in which they have sought protection to a third country. Resettlement places are unfortunately severely limited, with less than one per cent of the 19.9 million refugees around the world benefiting from this durable solution on an annual basis. While UNHCR identifies refugees in need of resettlement as part of its mandate, States set quotas and make final decisions on admissibility.