Darfurians Demonstrate Over Shooting
Volume 1, Issue 3 / February 2009
Darfurian refugees in Kakuma Camp demonstrate at UNHCR after their fellow community member was shot by armed bandits on 2 February 2009
“It has long been said that security begins with you,” states a Darfurian man in the midst of a crowd demonstrating at the UNHCR Compound on 2 Februrary 2009 after a fellow refugee and security personnel was shot.
Darfurians demonstrated at the main gate of the UNHCR compound to express their grievances to the official bodies responsible for protecting refugees against attack and insecurity. They addressed their concerns to UNHCR, implementing NGO agencies, and the Kenyan Government.
Early in the morning following the shooting, Darfurian community members took to the road to demonstrate at the UNHCR compound. They carried written messages reminding UNHCR officials that they left their country after they were uprooted by persecution. “We become prey and are targeted without any reason,” one message to UNHCR read.
Flag bearers included women, children, and elders from Darfurian community. They announced to UNHCR officials that they had come to Kakuma for safety, security, and protection, but instead experienced the opposite.
The group demonstrated peacefully outside the UNHCR compound from morning to evening. Protesters were quiet and calm but full of grief.
Many demonstrators say they were shocked that they waited all day before UNHCR officials finally emerged to address the crowd.
Among the UNHCR officials were the UNHCR Protection Officer, Associate Protection Officer, Security Officer, and police officers. The officers expressed their sympathy and condolences for the community.
The UNHCR Security Officer told demonstrators that action will be taken and culprits will be apprehended, while the victim will continue with medication and treatment.
In response, demonstrators demanded adequate protection measures to ensure their safety and security. If such protection could not be provided in UNHCR Kakuma, they said, they would request to be relocated to another camp where their security will be guaranteed.
Darfurian community members express dissatisfaction with UNHCR’s follow-up on these promises. They say that the culprits have not been apprehended, despite clear evidence provided by one culprit’s wallet found on the scene.
Attackers shoot and run, dropping wallet
According to A. Mohamed, a close relative of the victim M. Mohamed, the incident occurred around 2 a.m. on Monday, 2 February 2009. A well-armed group of people entered the Darfurian community. A neighbour heard voices and tried to wake up M. Mohamed, who was on security watch that night.
Two men stood before M. Mohamed’s door and called to him, claiming that they needed help from security personnel. Thinking that community members were coming to seek his help or to call an ambulance for emergency, M. Mohamed stepped outside.
Reaching the exit door, he flashed his torch and saw a group of armed people. One of the men immediately opened fire and shot M. Mohamed in the stomach. He then fled. After hearing gunshots, people began shouting while M. Mohamed lay down unconscious.
The attackers fled in several directions. In the confusion, one culprit’s wallet fell to the ground and was discovered by a Darfurian community member an hour later. He took the wallet to their community leader. Upon opening the wallet, they found official identification documentation clearly stating the name, age, nationality, and profession of the culprit.
Along with these documents, community members also found the empty bullet used to shoot the community security guard.
While checking the documents and serial number of the empty bullet, the GSU (the General Services Unit of the Kenyan Police) arrived at the scene. Kenyan Police arrived soon after and GSU and Police began arguing about the identity of the culprit who had lost his wallet. Meanwhile, the victim was taken to Kakuma Mission Hospital for emergency treatment.
The OCS (Officer Commanding Station) arrived at the scene later for further investigation.
The District Officer Mr. Eric Wanyonyi refused to comment on the matter, stating, “I cannot give any official statement to an unregistered body.” He refers to the fact that KANERE is still in the process of being registered as a community-based organization.
“I do not even know why I am living”
On 10 February 2009, a KANERE journalist obtained authorization to visit the victim M. Mohamed at Kakuma Mission Hospital.
M. Mohamed, aged 33 years, was lying on a hospital bed while his brother watched over him. The victim began by saying that he had been uprooted from his home due to persecution and insecurity, and had come to Kakuma Camp for safety and protection.
“Right now I feel surrounded by a sense of worthlessness,” he says. “I feel I am nobody and do not even know why I am living.”
M. Mohamed does not understand why he was targeted for the attack. “I’m well known in my area as a security guard working for my people. I thought that the people who came to my gate late at night were coming to look for assistance either to call ambulance or any other assistance. But those were culprits who were coming to kill me,” he says.
He expresses anger that police have not taken action to apprehend the suspects. “But the evidence is there for the culprits. They are well known.”
“See what they did to me,” he says as he removes the covering of his bullet wound. The wound on his stomach is very large and deep.
“My community members demonstrated and went down to UNHCR main gate to meet with UNHCR officials as the grievance and shock was so high,” he explains.
“Security begins with you,” M. Mohamed concludes. “I’ve been trying to secure my own people but it has been turned into insecurity for my life.”
In the past, Kakuma experienced a series of killings that created insecurity camp-wide. Peace was relatively stable after the GSU arrived in mid-2008, and this incident marks the first serious case of insecurity since.
Refugees fear for their security because the camp is so large and unprotected by a perimeter fence. It is open for any person to enter without control.