TDoV 2020: Fostering visibility to T refugees living in refugee camps in Kenya
Pink News 31/03/2020
Let's break the silence around T refugees that are still forced to live in fear in refugee camps. Story collected by J. Milton for Pink News.
A group of transphobic people reportedly stabbed a trans Ugandan refugee in the head at a Kenyan camp, leaving them bleeding profusely.
While strolling to the shops in the evening of January 27, Stephen Sebuuma was jumped on by a gang of Sudanese refugees who, according to one witness, have “waged war” with the queer Kakuma Refugee Camp residents.
It’s the fifth time the trans refugee has been attacked by the group and the latest incident in a spectre of violence against queer Ugandans, one where the landlocked country’s anti-LGBT+ laws have forced countless people to seek asylum in Kenya.
Kakuma, a small town in northwestern Kenya, is the site of one of the largest and most bustling refugee camps in the country.
While people seek safety there each year, huddling into plastic shelters and thatched roof huts, it is a “dungeon” to its LGBT+ refugees, the witness said.
The camp is co-managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Kenyan government and the Kenyan Department of Refugee Affairs.
Due to the dizzying rates of violence inflicted upon them by fellow refugees, many of the queer asylum seekers live together in the camp.
But after being relocated last week by UNHCR authorities, the LGBT+ refugees are now “at war” with Sudanese refugees who “have vowed to harm all LGBTI refugees in Kakuma”, the witness said.
Sebuuma, the latest trans refugee to fall victim of the attacks, suffered cuts to their head and arm. They were jumped while on their way to grab groceries.
“The people came, holding a knife, and they started to beat me and shout, ‘You are gay,’” they told PinkNews.
“‘Last time we told you we kill you’. This was the fifth time I was attacked.”
After the attack at 7pm, they were rushed to clinic seven of an International Rescue Committee hospital, the witness added.
However, due to strained supplies, he was “administrated paracetamol” and their wounds bandaged.
The treatment echoed an earlier incident in which a trans man’s neck was sliced in broad daylight, but medics could only give him paracetamol.
Why are queer Ugandans fleeing to Kenya?
Often rejected by their families, queer Ugandans are forced to flee and seek refuge in neighbouring Kenya.
Uganda, an east African country snarled by severe anti-LGBT legislation, has become a battleground for queer rights.
In the last few years, government officials have ramped up ruthless attacks on the community.
An alleged plan to introduce the death penalty on gay sex struck terror in Ugandan activists last year, who have said anti-LGBT violence has rocketed since.
Last year alone, queer Ugandans have been bludgeoned with machetes, had community centres mobbed only for LGBT+ staff to be arrested, a doctor crack the skull of a lesbian and a gay-friendly club raided leading to 127 LGBT+ people being arrested by army and police officers.
Embattled queer folk have fled to Kenya, but last year the country’s courts called to continue criminalising gay sex.
[J. Milton for Pink News]