Dear KANERE readers,
I take this opportunity to welcome our readers through this double edition of KANERE. It’s with huge compliment as we send our heartfelt condolences to refugee communities in Kenya following the large scale security swoops that have targeted the refugee populations in the urban areas since April.
For several months, the weather in Kakuma remained warm and dry. The camp observed relatively fewer security problems as compared to a year earlier. However, some parts of the camp had experienced violent tribal conflicts among the South Sudanese communities that led to four people dead including a school going teenager.
In this issue, we are focusing more on the plight of the refugees in urban centers with in-depth stories illustrating facts about the recently launched ‘Usalama Watch’ or ‘Counter-terrorism’ operation.
The operation is an attempt to identify illegal aliens residing in the country and subsequently to eliminate the people from places the Kenyan government believes to be harboring terrorists. The operation had largely negative impacts on the foreigners and the refugees in the country, who have criticized and opposed the move.
The arrest and detention of refugees in the urban areas started on the 1st April as a part of a large scale security operation by the security machinery. It was followed by forced relocation to isolated refugee camps. Refugees interviewed by Kanere journalists, told of illegal arrests, extortion and detentions by police.
Hundreds of refugees, mainly of Somali origin, were deported without the due process of law. There are bitter stories of how families were split. Mothers were separated from their children and even by the end of July, there are several families who are not yet reunited.
During the month of April, many Non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian services, including the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR, kept silent. They might have reasons for this or are they too afraid to exercise their mandate? Refugees in Kakuma are speculating on what will happen if the Kenyan government decides to close all the camps and force the refugees out of the country?
As a double edition, we have other stories on the inter-clan conflict between the Diauechuk and Ayuel, subgroups of South Sudan’s Dinka tribes, and an in-depth-story on the “Lost Boys” of Sudan – a generation that has lost for the second time.
Other stories cover the refugee interpreters who went on protest demanding a raise in the incentive payment as employees of UNHCR; while as a tradition, the World Refugee Day was commemorated by both the camp residents and the members of the host community at Kalemchuch field.
The colorful day was “celebrated” by the humanitarian aid agencies and had high profile guests. Among other notables in attendance were US Ambassador Robert Godec, UK Ambassador Christian Turner and three other Ambassadors to Kenya, Government officials including the county commissioner for Turkana West.
In this past week Kenya witnessed its 17th explosion since the Westgate attack. The country has suffered scores of grenades, gunfire assaults and continues to face threats of terror attacks from Somalia based Al-Shabaab militia. However, it’s not yet clear why the US is pulling the Peace Corps Volunteers out of Kenya secretly!
In this edition, Kanere is reminding the Government of Kenya and UNHCR, in line with protection of refugees and asylum seekers in the country, that international law forbids the refoulement (forced expulsion) of refugees.
We are looking forward to a day that the governments, the world leaders and those who are directly dealing with refugees would have a better understanding and a well established mechanism for dealing with issues surrounding the security of persons of concern in need of international protection.
We hope by reading through these stories everyone can be able to act to the best of their ability for the protection of refugees globally.
Get back to us with your feedback, get involved, send your positive contributions as well as criticism!
Editorial Executive – KANERE
“We’re Ethiopian refugees, we’re not Somali and we’re not terrorists. We had proof of our identities but there’s even no law that protects us,”
– Abdikadir told Kanere in an interview/ “Deportation of an Ethiopian refugee to Somalia”
“We are targeted for nothing, you can’t look for terrorists in this manner, we are not terrorists,”
– Sheik Mohamed told Kanere in an interview/ “Police torture in Eastleigh”
“We answered ‘No’ to the radical question from the lawyers and we’re immediately forced to the entrance and denied entry that afternoon. We’re not give a chance to express ourselves, this is not the UNHCR that the world thinks of,”
– K. Mabior, a former interpreter/ “Refugee interpreters on protest”
“Today, we joined the international community and over 45 million people uprooted by war, conflict and persecution. It’s an international obligation for everyone to support refugees,”
– US Ambassador Robert Godec/ “World Refugee Day 2014”
“I was at the water point when a group of my clan men alerted us about the spreading fight, we all ran to collect our babies,”
– Ayier Adual told KANERE / “Dinka clans in conflict”
“The villages were attacked during the nights with artilleries and dangerous roaring machine guns, this terrorized the children and even animals,”
– Lost Boys Chairperson said in a statement at Kakuma/ “The Lost Boys of Sudan”
“Any refugee found flouting this directive will be dealt with in accordance with the law,”
– Kenya Interior Minister, Joseph Ole Lenku ordered refugees to go to camps/ “Kenya against the Refugees”
“Some members of the Oromo were arrested at a Mosque after night prayer and charged at the court offensively,”
– Oromo block leader told Kanere/ “Police harassment in Kakuma 1”
“I was at the age of four when my parents were killed. I got separated from my uncle but lived among other kids,”
– Jacob Deng a survivor told Kanere/ “The Lost Boys of Sudan”
“The fight broke out in the day and I am arrested at the night while in my residential plot. I don’t belong to Diauechuk nor Ayuel. Is this just?,”
– Asked JK during interview/ “Dinka clans in conflict”
“These actions are too brutal but we have learnt to accept it and life goes on. The nights were human ATMs while the day remains the malls hunting, therefore we opt to close our shops when we see the police,”
– Imran Hussein, a business woman, disclosed to Kanere/ “Kenya against the Refugees”
“This is the business center with electricity and cafes, it’s not clear why police are beating and just arresting anyone since June,”
– A Sudanese Nuer leader remarked/ “Police harassment in Kakuma 1”
“We had much expectation of practical changes on food, protection and durable solutions which are not coming,”
– Waqo an Oromo Ethiopian supposed/ “World Refugee Day 2014”
The stand of the Kenya government is not clear: are they fighting terrorism, refugees inside the country, or an ethnicity? (more…)
In Kakuma 1, conflict between the South Sudanese Dinka clans of Diauechuk and Ayuel broke out following an old rivalry.
The Muslim congregation’s prayer turned into a battle with police following a large scale security operation in Eastleigh. (more…)
Police round up refugees in Kakuma 1 without notice of an imposed curfew. (more…)
An Ethiopian refugee family barely escaped the deportation scheme but their teenage son got deported to Somalia. (more…)
Friday, April 18, 2014
To the Office of UN – High Commissioner for Refugees, Switzerland, Geneva.
Subject: Arbitrary arrest and deportation of refugees in Nairobi (more…)
By Joyce Keeley
This past week Kenya witnessed its 17th explosion throughout the country since the Westgate attack, where al Shabaab terrorists killed over 67 people and injured nearly 200 others in a popular shopping mall.
Thousands of refugees in Kakuma and large numbers of humanitarian agencies showed up to commemorate the day with cultural dances. (more…)
The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan are a large group of people who were forced to leave their homes as unaccompanied children following regional strife between North and South Sudan in late 1980s. (more…)