UNHCR Statement on the relocation of 74 refugees to Kakuma camp

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, confirms the arrival today, Thursday 20 June, of 74 refugees and asylum-seekers in Kakuma, following the decision by the Government of Kenya that the group should leave Rongai on the outskirts of Nairobi and be relocated to the refugee camp.

“UNHCR and its partners are committed to providing protection and assistance to these 74 individuals. Upon their arrival, they will be met by protection staff. They will receive individual counselling and their protection needs evaluated. Specific provisions will be made for refugees with particular needs and vulnerabilities, including those with an LGBTI profile,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, the UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya.

The UN official added that the Kenyan government reiterated its intention to respect its international obligations and to ensure the physical security of all refugees in the country, including those with an LGBTI profile.  The policy of the government is that refugees should normally live in camps, and those who don’t should have the proper documentation, as well as avoid living in large groups for the host community’s and their own security and protection.

The group is made of individuals with a variety of backgrounds and profiles. Five of them belong to a broader group of some 200 LGBTI refugees who were moved out of Kakuma in December 2018 following security incidents, the vast majority have not been assessed as having an LGBTI profile.  Some had lived outside of camp for more than one year.  Most of them have received financial assistance and support from UNHCR and partners while in Nairobi. This assistance is similar to the one allocated to vulnerable refugees such as survivors of sexual violence and torture.

UNHCR and its partners have advised LGBTI refugees, including members of this group in urban areas where they can live in relative safety.

“We understand that many LGBTI refugees living in Kenya continue to face challenges, and that’s why the support they are receiving through community-based organizations remains crucial,” said Abdalla. “Thousands of refugees, including several hundred LGBTI refugees, have managed to live in urban areas in relative safety for several years.”

Last week, the group was evicted from the house where they were staying in the Kangemi area in Nairobi. UNHCR immediately worked on the relocation of the group to six alternative housing options identified by community-based organizations, allowing the large group to split in smaller groups.  Arrangements were completed within 24 hours and, on Wednesday 12 June, UNHCR facilitated transportation to the three houses immediately available in Nairobi.

The next day, the group, for unknown reasons, decided to leave the three houses and congregated in a separate and single house.  Following tensions with the landlord and the host community, Kenyan authorities decided that the group should be taken to Kakuma refugee camp.

“UNHCR remains committed to providing financial assistance, protection and support to all vulnerable refugees in Kenya, including LGBTI persons,” said Abdalla. “We will continue to do all that we can, with the help of partners and community-based organizations, to ensure that these persons, as well as the other 470,000 refugees in the country are self-reliant and able to live in safety and dignity.”


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