New Forms of Violence in the Camp
Several isolated incidents of violence challenged the peace in Kakuma Camp.
2010-11 Winter Quarterly Issue
November and December 2010 marked several violent cases of death, and some speculate that a new style of violence has emerged in the camp during the last months of 2010. First, a dead body was found on the outskirts of the camp, followed soon afterward by a young man being admitted to the camp main hospital due to serious injuries inflicted by a sharp object. Two days later, a young man was assaulted and almost slaughtered in one of the camp hotels. A separate gunshot awoke refugees when an old Somali mother’s home was invaded and robbers stabbed her before she was rushed to the Kakuma Mission Hospital.
According to sources from the hospital, the man was stabbed to death by unknown persons and his body was hidden in the bush on the outskirts of the refugee camp. The body was discovered by local girls who were collecting firewood on November 10. They called out to refugees who were passing by, who in turn called for security guards and ultimately called police to carry the body to the main hospital.
In a separate incident two days afterward, a young man was stabbed by a fellow community member and sustained serious injuries in the left side of his ribcage. The young man resides in the Somali community of Kakuma One. Community leaders report that the assault stemmed from anger over a long-standing personal dispute between the two men. But community leaders and other refugees argue that it is necessary to settle disputes through dialogue because violence affects everybody in the community. “It is not acceptable to kill a friend just for single quarrels,” the group leader said. “Young men in these communities walk with short knives in their pockets.”
Violence broke out again on December 7, 2010, as a Sudanese gentleman who works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) was assaulted while washing his hands in the camp’s famous Ethiopian eatery, Hotel Franco. Workmates say that the old man who assaulted this gentleman suspected him to have had sexual relations with his wife. The victim was air-lifted to Nairobi for better treatment. On the following day, in an interview with a Kenyan police officer at Kakuma, KANERE found that the alleged assailant had been taken to court for a trial on the evening of December 7, 2010.
At midnight on December 12, 2010, an elderly Somali woman living in Kakuma One, Zone One, Block 6, was attacked and stabbed. She sustained serious injuries all over the body. Her neighbor says that she was assaulted because she did not produce her son to the robbers who wanted to kill him. Her son escaped from house and called neighbors, and narrowly escaped as the robbers shot at him while he was leaving.
Despite the deployment of the Kenyan General Service Unit (GSU) and Administration Police (AP) units in the camp, refugees remain afraid of violence with guns and sharp objects.
Such violence often goes unreported, especially during the end of the year. Local traditional breweries are blamed for hiding and protecting these bandits even when the police are attempting to make arrests. But even when the community cooperates and perpetrators are arrested, they are often released a few days later by the Kenyan police. This situation creates further insecurity and threatens any community members who might have participated in the effort leading to their arrests.