Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Police Raid on Illicit Brews

Posted in Human Rights, News Updates by KANERE on March 12, 2014

The police raid on illegal alcoholic drinks has resulted in several local manufacturers suffering the outcome in Kakuma 1.

The second week of February marks a number of raids on illicit alcoholic drinks, concentrated at Kakuma 1 Zone 1 and 2 of Kakuma refugee camp. The locality is the hottest sport where illicit alcoholic drinks have been locally made and sold to the public.

This part of the camp is also named Baghdad – occupied mainly by Dinka, Lotuko and Didinka communities from South Sudan. Many members of these communities manufacture the local brews as a way of providing for their families. The protracted refugee situation has literally led groups of camp residents into digging holes to finding source of any livelihood as noted by KANERE.

On the 11th February at least 80 liters of illicit brews were found during a raid between the two zones. The early morning raid in this section resulted in at least six women and a man from the host community being brought before Kakuma Magistrate’s court.

On this day, Rose Nakoi and two other South Sudanese women were found in possession of thirty liters of illicit brews and charged with the offense, while Sabina Napeyok was found in possession of another thirty liters of Changa (illicit drink). The offenders pleaded guilty and had options of paying bond to the court as the case waited on the ruling.

“This thing is illegal but we don’t get enough food for children, do we eat stones to live?” a woman who declined to give her identity stated after police raided her block.

On the 9th February, a South Sudanese minor aged fourteen was arrested and charged with possession of ten liters of Changa. The allegations were found true and the minor would be tentatively dealt with by the Children’s Court officials.

On the 12th February, Susan Etati – a South Sudanese aged 40 of the Lotuko tribe – was arrested and charged for being in possession of illegal drinks according to the prosecution. However, the woman alleged that she was arrested forcefully on the material day and brought to the police station where she claimed to be given thirty liters of illicit brews. “I did not prepare these drinks, it was not mine, I was brought to police station after they beat me,” the accused claimed to have been assaulted and charged unfairly. The woman was fined ten thousand Kenyan Shilling or a bond of five thousand Shilling as the court ruled.

On the same day, Elizabeth Nadai, a Didinka woman, was brought to the court and charged with possession of twenty liters of illicit brews against Kenyan Alcoholic regulations. The woman pleaded guilty and was fined KSh three thousand or the equivalent of ninety days imprisonment.

On the 13th February, Hellen Sunday, a south Sudanese Dinka female, was arrested and brought before the court and charged with possession of twenty liters of illicit brews, alongside a local Turkana man aged 35. The man was arrested and charged with possession of twenty liters of Bussa (illicit drinks) in the refugee camp location. The next hearing was scheduled to be on the 10th March 2014.

Considering the vulnerable status of the refugees and members of the host community, the court had no alternative but to make ruling fairly as required by the Kenyan Constitution and the rule of law applied.

Some of the offenders expressed their intention of not repeating the offences in the future; however, everyone who was found to have broken the law had an individual ruling in connection with the individuals’ act of prosecutions as per the Kenyan Alcoholic Regulations of 2010, Section 27 (1) B.

“The police raid was timely as the court resumes at Kakuma” – a police official who wished to remain anonymous told KANERE outside the court building

There has been widespread manufacturing of illicit alcoholic drinks and use of drugs in the camp. The protracted refugee situation has encouraged illegal drugs operation and different forms of accessibility into the porous camps.

Besides the illicit alcoholic drinks there are several other dangers like Bhang, Marijuana, Kubar including Mirra (khat) which are highly in consumption throughout the camp. These drugs are sold in many parts of the camp which are known only to the drug gangs. Most of the time they are consumed at social places like cafes and within residential homes exposing teenagers at risk.

The refugee youths are at great risk from the growth of drug abuse in Kakuma camp. There is no practical support that should help girls and young women to engage in a more constructive way of earning a living, besides the growth of sex workers, corruptions and increase of HIV/Aids.

The concerned humanitarian organization has taken to what some aid agencies termed creation of awareness campaigns, which amounts to misuse of relief funds as it fails to curb the use of illegal drugs in the camp.

The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR funds the Film Aid Organization that under Kakuma’s humanitarian regime is believed to be responsible for camp publicity. However, the organization has lost focus and credibility in terms of how it operates.

“Is all this that glitters Gold?” are the words from refugee leaders. It doesn’t add value when such NGOs purchase a new vehicle, fixing fancy stickers and putting loud music along the refugee main street in the name of creating an awareness campaign on drug abuse or safety. Whether they are a media organization or campaigners for More Relief Aid, they’ve lost credibility, and they’re unproductive in the eyes of camp residents.

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