Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

To: The Editor of Kakuma News Reflector

Posted in Arts, Contributors, Letter from the Editor, News Updates, Opinion by KANERE on March 23, 2020

I have been a reader of KANERE for a long while. Many refugees like myself feel that KANERE is the only independent media that gives voice to refugees in both the Kakuma camp and the Kalobeyei settlement.

I would like to raise some concerns about the different ways that refugees all over the camp have been suffering, sometimes due to oppressive humanitarian policies. We hope future publications will cover these issues:

The first issue is about the rations on which we survive in Kakuma. You are denied a ration card if you have missed two food distributions. If you miss, your ration card is permanently deactivated and you are told to register anew. Imagine, someone has stayed ten years and then misses just three months, and they are required to start everything as if they are a newcomer.

The ration system becomes a way to police people, as if we are locked up in the camp. I know a family of five who were in Nairobi for medical reasons. When they came back to Kakuma, they discovered that their ration card had been deactivated. After staying months without a ration, the card was finally activated but recognizing only two people in the household. What kind of humanitarian treatment is this? I have attached a photo of a family begging to the agencies to open up their ration card. I hope you will find a space to publish that photo.

The second issue is about mental health. A lot of people who have been suffering due to mental illness, and the numbers of suicides are rising. It is good to create awareness about suicide prevention, but doing this only occasionally cannot help us. Refugees need counseling, and I hope KANERE will raise this issue in future editions to sound the alarm for organizations and donors.

The third issue concerns documentation. The Refugee Affaires Secretariat (RAS) is understaffed. They need to add additional employees and budget so that they can more adequately serve refugees. It takes so long for us to retrieve vital documents and permissions. The latest figures that I have seen show that around 23,000 asylum seekers are waiting for decisions on their status. They lack interpreters, and this is a big challenge especially for those who do not speak Kiswahili.

Finally, the issue of Coronavirus: Refugees both in Kakuma and Kalobeyei are panicking due to news of the pandemic. I do not think the agencies will save us if the virus reaches here. Please let the world know that we have nothing to rely on. May Allah protect all of us.

I hope you will publish the above message.

Yours faithfully
Essa Suliyman – Kakuma Refugee Camp

President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier Visits Kakuma

Posted in Feature Reports, Health, Humanitarian Services, News Updates by KANERE on March 23, 2020

By Qaabata Boru – KANERE staff writer

On February 26, 2020, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the Kakuma refugee camp to observe a project sponsored by Germany. As a welcome gift, he received a football from pupils of Al-Nuur Primary School.


7 dead as heavy rain pounds Kakuma Refugee Camp

Posted in Education, Feature Reports, Health, Kakuma Town and Kenya, News Updates by KANERE on March 23, 2020

By KANERE Staff Reporter, November 2019

Seven people died in the Kakuma refugee camp after torrential overnight rains, with some swept away while crossing rivers, a zone leader in Kakuma 1 told KANERE.


Large Fire Transforms Safe Haven into Hell

Posted in Humanitarian Services, News Updates, Peace and Security by KANERE on March 23, 2020

By KANERE staff writer

A large fire broke out at the Jesuit Refugee Service’s (JRS) safe haven at around 5:30pm in the evening of January 2,2020. The fire caused severe damage to the building, located at Kakuma 1, Zone 1, Block 8.


Five Dead, Many Injured in Communal Violence

By KANERE Staff Writer, Dec 2019

At least five people were killed in an inter-ethnic conflict in Kakuma Refugee camp that spanned at least 3 days. The conflict was sparked on the evening of December 10, 2019 during a football match between the South Sudan and Sudan football teams at Kakuma 3, Zone 2, Block 13. What started as a skirmish on the football pitch escalated as larger revenge attacks were carried out in places of residence. By the next day, much of Kakuma 3 was affected by general insecurity and movement by both foot and vehicle were halted for days, including for NGOs.


Community Radio Established in Kalobeyei Settlement

Posted in Arts, Community and Culture, News Updates by KANERE on March 23, 2020

By KANERE staff writer

REF FM, a new community radio for and by refugees in the Kalobeyei Settlement, is now ready to commence broadcasting for refugees and the host communities.


LGBTI+ Refugees fight for a place in UNHCR database

Posted in Human Rights, Humanitarian Services, Kakuma Town and Kenya, News Updates by KANERE on March 23, 2020

November 7th
By Kalisha Itekewa – KANERE Staff Reporter

On November 29, 2019 a group of LGBTI+ refugees camped in front of the UNHCR staff compound in Kakuma. It was an extension of a November 6th protest that was led by new LBGTI+ arrivals, who have been residing in the reception center for several months. Following three days of demonstrations in front of the UNHCR offices, the group was dispersed by the police as they tried to enter the UNHCR compound by force as they try to push through the gate confronting with the security guards.


Letter from the editors

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on July 31, 2019

Dear KANERE readers,

Welcome to our latest edition. We have had a long stretch without a new publication, largely due to the lack of funding for our operations, as well as interruptions while some staff and volunteers were moving from the camp to urban areas of Kenya or out of the region. However, our dedicated team in Kakuma – with the support of founding members abroad – will continue to work toward making KANERE a source of quality journalism.

Many of our stories are pertinent to various stakeholders in Kakuma, including refugees, the international community, and the humanitarian organizations that deliver aid. However, some of the stories will primarily be of interest to our audiences who live or have lived in the camp.

On July 10, armed conflict between Somali refugees and members of the host community resulted in at least three injuries, including that of a child. Our story includes analysis of the ways that such conflicts escalate and the repercussions for businesses and humanitarian operation in the camp.

In April, the Government of Kenya undertook a biometric registration process of all residents of the country in an attempt to prevent impersonation and fraud, authenticate personal data, and enhance access to government services. However, the programme has been criticized by citizens and right groups for publicizing citizens’ private information in violation of the constitution. A few months later, neither UNHCR nor the government’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) has commented on the ongoing biometric registrations of refugees in Kakuma. This silence has left many camp residents feeling uninformed.

This edition also includes articles covering an array of other issues pertinent to those living in Kakuma, including water shortages, a new mobile application designed for camp residents, and the lack of support for shelter maintenance and safety inspections. As is often the case, a number of the stories are distressing: we cover a wave of suicides by women in Kakuma, the murder and mutilation of a child in an outlying area of the camp, and the unsolved case of a bodaboda (motorbike) driver from Burundi whose murder remains a mystery to the community.

In an effort to use KANERE as a forum for perspectives from the refugee and host communities, we have included in this edition perspectives solicited from residents about Kalobeyei, a new site of refugee warehousing that has been described as an “integrated settlement”. We present a range of viewpoints on the prospects for integration at this site, some optimistic and others critical. Looking ahead, there is some disagreement on whether Kalobeyei should be called a new settlement or merely an extension of the Kakuma camps, an issue that will be discussed in our next edition.

As always, we thank all KANERE members and supporters for supporting the continuation of KANERE’s vital work disseminating up-to-date information and amplifying advocacy efforts by and for refugees. We strive to maintain a fair editorial decision emphasizing openness and integrity, and we continue to welcome submissions of timely stories and critical opinions to be considered for publication.

We also welcome commentary from camp residents, members of the host community, and those working within the humanitarian organizations to provide services to the warehoused populations. To contact our editorial team at KANERE, drop us an email at Kakuma.news@gmail.com


Qaabata Boru, Elias Lemma & G. Ibrahim
KANERE Editorial Team

Violent Robbery Interrupts Peace in Kakuma One

By KANERE News Desk, July 2019

At least three refugees sustained gunshot wounds while property of unknown value was stolen by armed night-time attackers  (more…)

Female refugees turn to Suicide and drug to escape agonizing camp life

By Qaabata Boru – kakuma.news@gmail.com, July 2019

Decreases in the number of resettlement places available and a cut in food rations have led to growing levels of suicide, drug abuse and alcoholism as a coping mechanism among female refugees in Kakuma refugee camp, northwest Kenya, a home for more than 88,000 women from different East and central African countries, who’ve escaped war or civil strife. (more…)

Community Talking Point: Integration and Freedom of Movement

By KANERE staff reporter, May 2019

What do you think about the refugees integration and the freedom of movement? The Refugee Affairs secretariat (RAS), the main body responsible for refugees in Kenya, in conjunction with UNHCR, Refugee Consortiumof Kenya (RCK), and other implementing agencies held a one-day meeting with refugees on May 12th to discuss integration in Kalobeyei.


Biometric Registration faces strong religious resistance in Kakuma

By Ibrahim with Qaabata – KANERE Staff writers April 2019

With the aim of creating a centralized database of everyone residing in Kenya, including foreigners and refugees, the government launched a nationwide bio-metric registration that includes refugee camps. (more…)