Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on April 16, 2012

Dear KANERE readers and prospective supporters,

We here at Kakuma and its environs are experiencing very hot, dry weather with plenty of dust storms at the moment. The number of refugees in Kakuma grows everyday. The security situation, however, is not adjusted for these numbers and has been deteriorating. The relationship between refugees and the host community population continues to be unstable. It was sad that there were no new publications from KANERE since last year, but we hope that this edition will be more comprehensive and will cover more aspects of camp life.

To reduce the risk of crime inside the camp proper security measures are required. The security situation in Turkana County, along the international boarders with South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia has been reported to be calm. In the fall of 2011, however, security alertness was enhanced for humanitarian operations in camps like the Daadab Complex following the ongoing efforts of the Kenya Defense Forces in Somalia against Al–Shabaab. At Kakuma, there was no alarming security threat though alertness was enhanced in the compounds and along the Kakuma airstrip.

Several cattle raids have been reported among Turkana and Pokot herders who are from Turkana East and South Districts. Jie and Topozas cattle raiders from Uganda remain hostile to Turkana. These situations escalate over scarce pasture and water due to a long dry season. The main highway through the North western corridor from Kitale – Lodwar – Kakuma – Lokichokio has also experienced incidents and confrontations with bandits; however the UN and NGOs staff at Kakuma are accustomed to use armed police escorts on this highway.

I want to note my sincere appreciation for KANERE journalists who have tirelessly worked on this edition entirely on a voluntary basis. It is not easy running a newspaper without funding. We want to also thank the KANERE community here and abroad for their legal and moral support of our work. We need this support so that publication can continue on a bimonthly basis. This issue will cover different developments that have happened in the camp since last November. Though this publication has been delayed, we hope our readers will find it useful and worthwhile coverage.

The new camp address initiative has been welcomed by camp residents. Shelter inadequacies have been a serious problem in the camp leading not only to congestion but also to the tragic death of a child upon the collapse of a house. A murder occurred and violent robberies have terrorized residents of the camp. For Rwandans the refugee ‘cessation clause’ seems like a death penalty. Many efforts were made to postpone the previous UNHCR deadline for revoking refugee status from already recognized persons or group. The new Camp Constitution and election procedures have divided public opinion in the camp.

Refugee encampment and warehousing policies have ‘highly politicized meaning’ that drive donors to give aid to ensure and sustain the survival of innocent victims of violent power struggles. The warehousing situation has distorted refugee understanding of how they are forced to migrate from they home to arrive in situations of harm, humiliation, degradation and abuse in various camp settlements around the world. More than 100 refugees were arrested and questioned last December over the explosion at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab complex. This created waves of insecurity in refugee camps across the country where movement of refugees out of the camps has been severely restricted.

Camps should provide better protection. Refugees should not be overlooked. Educated and talented refugees who were once civil servants, refugee activists and exiled journalists are not allowed to exercise their talents in their host countries. KANERE urges that refugees in Kenyan camps and around the globe be given dignified recognition of ‘full’ not just ‘basic’ human rights. They deserve to be treated professionally. The 1951 Refugee Convection states the ‘basic’ rights which have become fundamental, such as the ‘refugee’ definition and their right to ‘non-refoulement’. Refugees should not merely be warehoused in camps, sheltered and fed on 3gms of cereals per day. They are productive citizens of the world. The UN and world leaders should recognize the contributions of noble men and women who were once refugees like Albert Einstein and Madeleine Albright.

We hope you will enjoy reading this KANERE issue. We welcome your lively comments, contributions and questions. You can write to us at: kakuma.news@gmail.com

Sincerely,

KANERE Editor in Chief,

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Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on August 21, 2011

Dear KANERE readers and prospective supporters:

We apologize for the delayed publication of this issue. Publication was hindered by challenges and struggles that render tenuous the very existence of free press in the Kakuma refugee camp. Indeed, without determined efforts from the entire KANERE community here and abroad we might have not come this far.

KANERE’s operations, which function on a voluntary basis, have been impeded by mounting dangers.  These dangers include:  threats to security, prolonged droughts, high mortality rates at the refugee camp hospital and violent conflict within the camp.  The usually short rain season, for example, has intensified famine for the livestock of local pastoralists in Turkana. Inside the camp, however, flooding from rainfall in May caused considerable damage to hundreds of shelters. These themes emerge repeatedly in the articles that follow.

Luckily, there is good news as well.  The KANERE community is immensely grateful to the planners who put the camp under a new address and blocking system, enhancing accessibility and directions to the camp settlement. The number of Camp and urban refugees reading KANERE daily has also gradually increased through computer and mobile phone technologies.  Our readers extend discussion of these stories with comments and contributions on our blog. We encourage readers inside and outside Kakuma to support us by telling and distributing the stories to others.

KANERE’s objective is to enable and promote the existence of civil society, currently fractured and facing many perils inside the camp. Most gravely, the forceful suppression of free press has created a self-perpetuating crisis. This censorship is experienced intimately in daily life. To be sure the stories in this issue reveal multiple powerful paradoxes that are not easily resolved. Underpinning these is the persistence of human suffering!

KANERE represents the only organized effort toward a sustainable civil society inside the Kakuma refugee camp.  We ask the standard-bearers of human rights stand with us and protect those whose rights are routinely violated in the Kakuma refugee camp. We hope that our readers enjoy the articles, and we encourage you all to make contributions to the Refugee Free Press and post comments on our stories so we can continue this lively conversation.

Signed,

KANERE Editor-in-chief

Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on February 11, 2011

2010-11 Winter Quarterly (November-December-January)

To all KANERE readers here and abroad:

In the life of journals KANERE turned its second year in December 2010, and its writers continue to stand strong in advocating for refugees. This quarterly winter issue marks the last news dispatches from the year 2010 and early 2011.

We send our wishes for a pleasant 2011 to all our readers, supporters and criticizers, wherever you may be. We would like to send note of thanks to all our readers and supporters throughout the last year and to encourage you to continue with us in the same spirit this year.

While life in the camp has seen little change over the past three months, the Sudanese Referendum marked a defining moment for Sudan. It is a real test for many Southerners worried about their relatives who live on both sides of the North and South. Everyone is thinking: unity or break away? Kakuma was cited as a major voting centre in the Rift Valley Province.

Numerous incidents of violence punctuated the holiday season as refugees were reported dead on the outskirts of camp or in their own homes. In early January 2011, a fire erupted in the refugee community of Kakuma One, sending several refugees to the hospital and destroying properties valued at hundreds of thousands Kenya shillings.

Human right organizations have released alarming reports on protracted refugee situations, calling attention to serious harassment and rights violations of refugees and asylum seekers in their countries of asylum. According to an Amnesty International report released in December 2010, the harassment of Somali refugees by Kenyan police and soldiers has reached intolerable levels.

The weather in Kakuma and its surrounding environs during the past three months remained dry and sunny characterized by cold nights.

As we speak in a louder voice, we appeal for better protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya and urge an end to encampment policy!  We wish a peaceful environment in Southern Sudan.

Signed,

KANERE Editor

Letter from the Editor: July-October 2010

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on November 8, 2010

To all KANERE readers here and abroad:

We are delighted to release this issue. It is tremendous honor to speak on behalf of all the thousands of refugees in camps who don’t have the chance to scream to the world that “Yes, we exist!”

Despite the lack of resources and the funding for the paper, volunteer KANERE journalists always have determination to keep the candle burning!

For the last three months, the life in the camp was marked by high-profile visitors, as the Chief UNHCR High Commissioner Geneva embarked on the second visit to Kakuma Camp since the camp’s establishment in 1992. His visit was marked by the provision of street lights through a community lighting project. Refugees are eagerly waiting the successful start of lighting systems in the communities.

The security of the camp rose and fell at times: a baby boy was killed by a gunshot, while a man was recently killed at Kakuma Four and many others seriously injured following similar attacks.

In Kakuma Town and Kenya, the country had a very successful Referendum that was followed by the promulgation. The country celebrated its first national holiday after the rebirth of the Nation on the 20th October 2010 for Mashujaa Day.

On the international scene, 90 journalists were killed in Mexico’s most deadly area while they were on duty, according to the Media Watchdog Press Emblem Campaign. We send our prayers and solidarity.

Kindly, post your comments and views on our blog or write to the Editor at Kakuma.news@gmail.com.

We believe you will enjoy reading KANERE!

Signed,

The Editor

Letter From The Editor June 2010

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on June 30, 2010

Dear our Respectable readers here and abroad,

We are humbly grateful to Almighty God for He has allowed us to reach this far on this our small planet. KANERE strongly apologies for this many months delayed publications of course for some reasons. Though this issues comes to your attention late we still believe that there are meaningful.

I thank the potential KANERE staff for their work until now despite the scenes we encountered in the course of early this year that got reported or are left out interrupting our normal routines, we have always believe in our strengths as we shall definitely keep on working towards ensuring the continuation of KANERE.

For over five months, life in Kakuma camp was remarked by several insecurity problems. In the late April to May there has been tremendous heavy down pour which caused camps flooded leading to several refugees thatched muddy wall shelters were washed away. A local Turkana boy and three Sudanese refugees died at the aggressive Kawalase seasonal flowing river which is approximately 1km to Lodwar town. In the refugee communities there had occurred few murder cases, several assaults and related serious Domestic violence cases reported.

In the world of the sport, the FIFA world cup taking place on the African soil for the first time, most camps movie halls, Tea and Coffee cafe’s here were over crowded as the football supporters and the fans feel for the game.

Being the great month in the world refugee calendar: thousands of the Kakuma refugees, International and national NGO Refugee Agencies with the concerned Kenya Government Departments taking a lead emerged at the Napata grounds to celebrate the world refugee day 2010.

The wider audiences out there keep your comments, thoughts and experiences alive. Address all the correspondences to myself at kakuma.news@gmail.com

Resilience,

KANERE Editor

Letter from the Editor December 2009

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on December 22, 2009

To all our readers here and abroad:

Hello again! On December 22nd 2009, the Kakuma News Reflector (KANERE) will celebrate its first year of existence. From the day of its creation until now, KANERE has done remarkable work in the fields of local news coverage, information sharing, and international correspondence. Many things have happened, and much has been said of our organization (see “KANERE in the News” for links).

Despite limitations to our smooth performance and operation, we are now polishing our shoes to step into the New Year.

During the last six months, life here in Kakuma Refugee Camp was marked by a few major changes and continuing uncertainty. While insecurity has persisted, one refugee man successfully thwarted an armed robbery by disarming the thugs. Thousands of Somali refugees were relocated to join us in Kakuma from Dadaab Camp; we welcome their arrival and ask them to join our communities and contribute their ideas to KANERE. On the health front, a cholera outbreak currently threatens thousands, and the controversial Mix-Me nutritional supplement is going through another round of testing.

I would like here to remember the unforgettable work done by the volunteer journalists, artists, editors, and supporters of KANERE. Their determination and patience sustained our good efforts and kept the free press alive during the difficult incidents encountered in the course of this year.

A special thanks goes out to all our supporters wherever they may be in the world, because their support has assured us that our work is meaningful and that others are watching. We hope that these connections will strengthen and grow through the next year ahead of us.

I welcome your comments, contributions, and experiences from all over the planet. Please direct all correspondence to myself at Kakuma.news@gmail.com

Happy holidays to all, and a prosperous New Year 2010!

Sincerely,

The KANERE Editor

Letter From the Editor May-June 2009

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on July 16, 2009

To all KANERE readers here and abroad:

Hello! We apologize that our May-June issue was not published in time due to a lack of the internet service and funds to run the operations as scheduled.

As a new incoming chief editor, Qaabata Boru, I recognize and thank our former editor, bethany ojalehto, for all her efforts. Her great inspirations and dedications have brought considerable changes in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Throughout May and June Kakuma was dusty from the wind that blows frequently for almost the whole month. Temperatures were very high. World Refugee Day on June 20th was also celebrated by all the NGO staff and refugees, and a bloody murder occurred among other events.

We are strengthening our commitment to a free press despite the challenges and limitations to carrying out operations.

KANERE appeals to any interested donor to fund the project.

I welcome all comments and contributions from all our readers on the planet.

Please address all correspondence to kakuma.news@gmail.com.

Many thanks,

the KANERE Editor,

Signed.

Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on April 12, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 4-5 / March-April 2009

To all KANERE readers, here and abroad:

We apologize that our last issue was not published due to a month-long internet blackout at the refugee camp cybercafé. Fortunately, the cybercafé was just restored and we are now re-connecting with the rest of Earth. Hello again!

Throughout March, life in Kakuma was getting hotter by the day, which may explain an unusual series of impassioned and fiery events. Refugee shelters were burnt to the ground in rage; a stampede erupted at the UNHCR head count; a UNHCR official fled field post amid a hail of stones; and several assaults and a shocking murder occurred.

Nonetheless, life went on and April brought a smattering of rains. We persisted in our journalism despite our disconnection—taking note of our histories and remarking on our happenings. Amid the perennial uncertainties of refugee life, we continue to ask the questions that need to be asked.

So enjoy this rather bulky double issue, and keep up the lively stream of comments.

Re-connected,

KANERE

Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on February 28, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 3 / February 2009

 To all KANERE readers, here and abroad:

Amid the flurry of reporting this February, we have concentrated on strengthening our professionalism and community presence.

KANERE journalists participated in a three-day training led by the Turkana District Information Officer, Leonard Wekesa Wafula. Lively debate arose as we negotiated the challenges of reporting in a refugee camp. How to determine what is of importance to refugees, locals, and the international community? How to deal with investigative stories in a sensitive climate? We continue to hone our skills in an evolving approach to refugee camp reporting.

We are mobilizing the community to create widespread awareness of KANERE’s objectives and to engage the entire community in a free press.  In an introductory meeting with community leaders, there was deep consensus that KANERE fills a critical role that has been ignored far too long, and plans are underway to expand community outreach.

Last, but certainly not least, we are grateful to welcome the legal support of Kituo Cha Sheria, a legal aid clinic based in Nairobi. This month’s editorial contribution from Dr. Ekuru Aukot highlights the ways in which Kituo has already begun to strengthen KANERE’s operations.

Our third issue continues to address the concerns most pressing to refugees and locals, with creative and artistic contributions infused. Enjoy the read, and viva la refugee free press!

Signed,

KANERE

Letter From the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on January 31, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 2 / January 2009

To all KANERE readers, here and abroad;

The second issue of the Kakuma News Reflector highlights the defining experiences of our growth so far.

We are consolidating our approach to human rights reporting, reflected most clearly in our feature report on the right to equal pay. We have also invited contributions from international experts on refugee affairs, enriching our coverage with views from Dr. Barbara Harrell-Bond, a leading refugee advocate, and Merrill Smith of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Other advocates and scholars have expressed their willingness to contribute to future issues of KANERE.

We have received widespread support from the national and international community. The Kenyan Government has welcomed our initiative and we enjoy collaboration with local officials. We are delighted to welcome the support of international organizations and advocacy groups including Fahamu, the Southern Refugee Legal Aid Network, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, among others. Our story has been covered by media outlets as diverse as Pambazuka News and the Forced Migration Current Awareness blog, reaching thousands of readers across the globe.

We hope this issue edifies and enlightens, but also begins to spark change. As you read, please keep in mind our struggles and affirm our cause. Pass our story to media outlets; cross-list our blog with websites and online groups; and share your many comments! A free press means a freer refugee camp.

Signed,

KANERE

Letter from the Editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on December 22, 2008

Volume 1, Issue 1 / December 2008

To all KANERE readers, here and abroad:

We are most pleased to introduce the Kakuma News Reflector, known among us as KANERE. We hope this inaugural edition will mark the beginning of a strong history of refugee reporting on encampment.

Through this publication, we act on our conviction that refugees should be involved in monitoring the work pertaining to their affairs, and should be given a meaningful channel to address their concerns to relevant bodies. We hold that a free press is one of the most effective means of human rights awareness. In this sense, our publication represents one step in a larger project to re-conceptualize refugee affairs from the ground up. To the well-established voices of academia, law, and institutions, we wish to add the emerging voices of refugees.

The birth of KANERE has been the result of concerted effort by a small team of journalists. Concerned at the lack of refugee participation in refugee law and policy, we wish to offer our own perspectives in a constructive bid for involvement. Disheartened at the lack of international attention to our prolonged encampment, we wish to spark awareness and interest from all quarters. We are appalled at the lack of human rights monitoring in refugee camps, and hope to stimulate discussion and debate over the events that unfold in our daily lives.

We are committed to the strictest honesty and integrity in our journalism. If our reporting is sometimes gritty, it reflects the perspective from the ground. If our analysis is sometimes incomplete, it reflects the information we have been given—and our access as refugees is often very limited. We are dedicated to the courageous questions and clear thinking that are necessary for a free and balanced press.

The theatre of our lives is diverse. As a community-based newspaper, our operations are local while our vision is international. Our primary concern is to provide local reporting for refugees and Kenyans living in and around Kakuma Refugee Camp. At the same moment, we are acutely aware of the international influences that bear on our daily lives, and this is also reflected in our reporting.

We welcome comments and contributions from all our readers. We send our especial greetings to all those members of our Kakuma community who have been resettled abroad, and welcome your input. Please address all correspondence to blo3@cornell.edu.

With many thanks to the humanitarian agencies who have walked with us and worked for us thus far, we press for the day when refugee rights are an entitlement rather than a gift. It is a long time coming and we are only one voice, but our vision burns.

Signed,

KANERE