LGBT+ refugees moved to safe houses af­ter camp at­tacks

Pretoria News Weekend - - WORLD - Reuters

LGBT+ refugees in Kenya’s re­mote Kakuma camp were be­ing moved to safe houses in Nairobi af­ter they were at­tacked when protest­ing for greater pro­tec­tion, the UN said.

The refugees said they were as­saulted by lo­cals and fel­low refugees out­side the of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) while protest­ing about ris­ing ho­mo­pho­bic at­tacks in re­cent months. Their shel­ters were set alight. The lat­est at­tack hap­pened on Tues­day in sprawl­ing Kakuma camp in Kenya’s north-west­ern Turkana county, home to at least 180 000 refugees from more than 10 coun­tries.

The refugees said they were beaten with sticks and iron bars and about 20 peo­ple were in­jured. Pic­tures and videos showed them in torn, blood­ied cloth­ing with swollen faces and ban­daged limbs. A UNHCR spokesper­son said about 20 of 170 LGBT+ refugees in Kakuma were be­ing shifted to safe houses in the cap­i­tal on Thurs­day, and an­other 150 at-risk refugees would be moved by the end of the month.

Refugees in the camp said they did not feel pro­tected by the po­lice and ho­mo­pho­bic vi­o­lence had been on the rise since they held a gay pride event in June.

Al­though gay sex is pun­ish­able with up to 14 years in jail in Kenya, the law is rarely en­forced and the coun­try is seen as more tol­er­ant than neigh­bour­ing Uganda and Tan­za­nia.

There are more than 750 LGBT+ refugees reg­is­tered in Kenya with the UNHCR, mostly from Uganda, but also from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, Ethiopia, Bu­rundi, South Su­dan and So­ma­lia. |

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