It’s been a couple of months since our last edition, but we are back to reporting with a few but critical items of coverage on Kakuma.
Kakuma has had very negative happenings in the recent months and there’s been no easy solutions to such. It was devastating, it was sad when communal violence erupted like a volcano between the ethnic communities, mainly the Dinkas and Nuers of South Sudan, before escalating to other nationalities. It was ugly and unprecedented killings that took place in this camp. More than twenty people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced. We have included an in-depth story that features the murders and unfolding of the violence.
It seems to be the nature of Kakuma to be a place which is full of problems! The environmental problem is added to manmade problems, to cause underlying poverty made worse by other natural phenomena. On Friday, 21 November, at least three refugees died as a result of floods in the camp. The heavy downpour destroyed a dozen houses made of loose soil exposing refugees to hazardous weather conditions, while some refugees who died in the flood were not been identified.
There has been a cut in rations for nearly two months now. It is a nightmare for thousands of the camp residents who have no other option for staying alive. It’s irrational, when you warehouse people for decades, controlling their movements and nurturing them to fully depend on aid. And yet eventually, as if you’re wakened from a deep sleep you happen not to have any food in the store for them! Refugees view the ongoing hunger as a gross failure of accountability in providing food as a basic human right that every human being is entitled to by UN – World Food Program.
Quite simply, this is the impact of warehousing! There are speculations that the next catastrophe would be the lack of life saving drugs in the refugee hospital. Anyone could guess what would happen in such a scenario! Yet, every year, the camp has received unknown billions of aid dollars that were never disclosed to the beneficiaries. There are many theories about the game of the aid industry both from the refugees and the international community, because the principles on paper contradict the facts and reality on refugee protection on the ground.
In spite of less emphasis than usual, the sixteen days of gender activism were ‘celebrated’ by several humanitarian NGOs in supporting the campaigns to shed light on gender based violence and children’s rights. In commemoration of these major days that were observed internationally, a story on the refugees living with disability, with their first hand views is included in this edition.
As we would strive hard to report in the new year, we are asking our readers to take action on each story by creating publicity on the refugees’ situation and supporting the work of KANERE from within the camp.
We are looking forward to your comments, suggestions and article contribution to a free press. We would like to consider well balanced, informative stories with value on refugee affairs.
KANERE’s editorial would like to wish you happy holidays and Merry Christmas!
“I doubt whether any humanitarian NGOs were able to document the killings that took place. We lost six refugees killed and thousands displaced from the Great Lakes community,”
– a Congolese humanitarian aid worker told Kanere/ “Violence in Kakuma Kills 20”
“This initiative aims at supporting the spontaneous return movement we have observed since 2012 and at better targeting the assistance needed by those opting to return to their places of origins to rebuild their lives,”
– Raouf Mazou, Representative of UNHCR Kenya/ “Repatriation of Somali Refugees”
“As camp refugees we are entirely depending on the rations for survival, now that it’s cut, then refugees are at risk of starvation,”
– A refugee camp leader told Kanere/ “WFP to cut food rations”
“We are not seen as useful members of the communities, but we are people with brain and soul,”
– Abdinasir Mohammed, chairperson of the disabled group in Kakuma 1/ “International Day of Persons with Disability”
“Earlier on, it was with luck that a group of six administration police officers came to rescue the people but they were outnumbered,”
– Abdiweli Osman, a Somali refugee/ “Passengers Taken Hostage at Kainuk, Turkana”
“I’ve personally visited the ‘Hongkong’ police post over the rape case but police didn’t act responsively,”
– a Nuer refugee leader in Kakuma 1 told KANERE/ “Violence in Kakuma Kills 20”
“As a result of insufficient funding, the WFP has been forced to reduce food rations for over half a million refugees living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps by 50 percent,”
– Challiss McDonough, WFP’s regional spokeswoman/ ” WFP to cut food rations”
“Kakuma is not a good place for anyone to live but the disabled people have lost hopes,”
– says 34 years old Mukishimana, a disabled person from North Kivu, Congo/ “International Day of Persons with Disability”
“We are not sure of where to go and what we are required to do. I don’t know what amount of support is available for my family!”
– Ali Ibrahim Mohamed from Dadaab’s Ifo 2 camp/ “Repatriation of Somali Refugees”
“In the first week of violence at least 10 refugees were killed from South Sudan, the situation worsened in the second week and we lost 11 refugees from different nationalities,”
– a leader from the Dinka community told Kanere in an interview/ “Violence in Kakuma Kills 20”
Fighting erupted in Kakuma Refugee Camp killing at least 20 people and injuring hundreds. (more…)
World Food Programme to cut food rations for Kenyan refugees by half, affecting over 500,000 camp residents. (more…)
More than 700 people including a dozen refugees from Kakuma refugee camp were among those held hostage. (more…)
In Kakuma refugee camp the International Day of Persons Living with Disability is observed, falling within the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. (more…)
94 returnees of Somali origin were headed home after decades of exile in the world’s largest refugee camp. (more…)
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…)