Contacts: George M. Carter, Founder/Director, FIAR



(KAKUMA REFUGEE CAMP, KENYA) -- Hundreds of LGBTQ+ refugees from across East Africa, sheltering in Kakuma Refugee Camp in the northwest of Kenya, are facing terrible suffering, inadequate medical care, a lack of food and housing and frequent violent homophobic attacks and assaults, with little or no protection from United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). The violence has left many seriously wounded and some fled to Nairobi. One young man, Ernest (Aneste) Mweru, either committed suicide or was murdered. One LGBT activist has been threatened with eviction from Kenya. A coalition of international LGBT activists today calls on UNHCR to live up to its mandate to ensure effective security for LGBTQ+ refugees in Kenya.

My lawyer advised me to take extreme caution until the case is finally settled. The mentioning is next week on 27th of May 2020. My life is on the line ... I have been advised not to use any form of media or communication gadgets that would lead to me being tracked down and possibly brutalised or even murdered by whoever it is that has always wanted me silent. I am trying as much as possible which is not hard enough to be on the low. I am scared and fearful. –Mbazira Moses, 5/22/2020

For his courage in publicly addressing the assaults and violent homophobic attacks at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Moses Mbazira, founder of Refugee Flag Kenya, is being punished and threatened with eviction. Moses is a refugee who fled LGBTIQ violence at home in Uganda. Most of the LGBTQ+ refugees have been placed in a particular area of the Kakuma Refugee Camp, administered by the UNHCR, the Governor of Turkana and the government of Kenya. Security is primarily undertaken by a mercenary-for-hire policing organization, G4S. In a recent interview with Christiane Amanpour, President Kenyatta asserted that gay rights are of no importance in Kenya. He was reflecting on the overwhelming culture of homophobia in the country, yet offered the view that no one should be beaten or assaulted. Yet despite this, many have faced violence, assaults and brutality.

The enemies are homophobia and transphobia.

In December, 2018, due to pervasive homophobia, a group of refugees held a peaceful march to protest the assaults and violence. The marchers were assaulted violently by police, G4S security and some members of the host community. Many were relocated to Nairobi. For some time, HIAS provided relief in the form of food, medicine and some funds for rent and the like but this has ended.

Others trying to return to Kakuma on UNHCR’s command have found themselves in a horrific limbo in an area called “Reception.” They sleep on the ground, have little food and only sporadic access to medical care. Some of the refugees have children with them. This is a community that includes gay men, transgender people and lesbians.

Subsequently, in May of 2019, Moses was imprisoned with community members, where they were tortured in custody and slept handcuffed. An attempt to fatally poison Mr. Mbazira was made, resulting in permanent liver damage. These links underscore the violence he and many others have faced:

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UNHCR must live up to its mandate and assure the SECURITY of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite entreaties, letters and demands from a number of people, their cries for help have been ignored. We need the international community to shine a spotlight on the tragic situation at the Camps to give leverage to UNHCR so they can help persuade Kenyatta that the persecution of LGBTQ+ community members is a violation of human rights.

THEREFORE, we as members of the Refugee Community and International Supporters are calling on UNHCR to provide:

  • Accelerated resettlement, in light of the threats faced and the added risks of COVID-19;
  • Providing SECURITY for all LGBTQ+ refugees in Kakuma and in Nairobi;
  • Access to food and clean water;
  • Provision for rent coverage by HIAS for those in Nairobi;
  • Sensitivity and further training of security personnel;
  • Appropriate legal representation for LGBTQ+ refugees;
  • Ongoing negotiations to work with President Kenyatta in assuring an end to assaults and violence.

    ATTENTION MEDIA: George M. Carter