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LGBTI refugees ask UNHCR to take them to a safe house

The group wanted to seek the UNHCR Inspector General’s attention over a myriad of challenges that include lack of documentation and financial support, now for months/CFM NEWS

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17- A group of refugees who are members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community on Friday staged a protest outside the Kitisuru estate office of the Inspector General of the United Nations High Commissioner office over alleged neglect.

The group wanted to seek the UNHCR Inspector General’s attention over a myriad of challenges that include lack of documentation and financial support, now for months.

They also cited fear for their lives since alongside other refugees they have been camping outside the UNHCR’s office which is located along Waiyaki Way and now want to be allocated a safe house.

One of the transgender refugees who spoke to Capital FM News and sought anonymity said they left Kakuma refugee camp after receiving threats due to their sexual orientation.

“I left Somalia because of war in 2011. I had also started receiving threats from Al-Shabaab for being a transgender,” he said.

Another transgender refugee from Congo said without documents, “we cannot move freely without being arrested by police. We have suffered for long and UNHCR is doing nothing to help.”

The refugees representative Dennis Omar, who also joined the members of the LGBTI community told Capital FM News that despite their protests, UNHCR has ignored them.

According to Omar and as established by this reporter, women and children are hard hit, with some ailing from various ailments, but no help seems to be forthcoming.

“We shall continue agitating for our rights until they hear us,” Omar said.

UNHCR office in Nairobi has since absolved themselves from their woes saying they were doing everything possible to address their challenges which include prompt registration.

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But even with this, right outside the gates of their offices, tens of refugees have now camped for months with their only hope being well-wishers who provide them with food.

Day in, day out, the refugees stay there whether it is raining or scorching sun.

And as established, they live with fear and trauma having fled death from their respective countries.

“I don’t know where to go with my six children. I am sure we will die outside the UNHCR offices, my last born is already sick due to the cold out there,” a teary refugee from Burundi, who only identified herself as Grace told Capital News.

UNHCR Head of Unit in Charge of Risk Management, Compliance, and Quality Robert Hurt on Wednesday said only those entitled to receive support will be given.

“If they are entitled to assistance, then they should receive it. But we have also had persons who do not meet the criteria, and this has been explained to them but they insist on receiving it but we cannot be bullied into giving assistance would only deprive others, who are entitled to receive it,” he asserted.

During the May 10 protests, refugees who spoke to Capital FM News said they had opted to camp outside the agency offices since they had been kicked out of their rental houses due to arrears.


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