Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

To: The Editor of Kakuma News Reflector

Posted in Arts, Contributors, Letter from the Editor, News Updates, Opinion by KANERE on March 23, 2020

I have been a reader of KANERE for a long while. Many refugees like myself feel that KANERE is the only independent media that gives voice to refugees in both the Kakuma camp and the Kalobeyei settlement.

I would like to raise some concerns about the different ways that refugees all over the camp have been suffering, sometimes due to oppressive humanitarian policies. We hope future publications will cover these issues:

The first issue is about the rations on which we survive in Kakuma. You are denied a ration card if you have missed two food distributions. If you miss, your ration card is permanently deactivated and you are told to register anew. Imagine, someone has stayed ten years and then misses just three months, and they are required to start everything as if they are a newcomer.

The ration system becomes a way to police people, as if we are locked up in the camp. I know a family of five who were in Nairobi for medical reasons. When they came back to Kakuma, they discovered that their ration card had been deactivated. After staying months without a ration, the card was finally activated but recognizing only two people in the household. What kind of humanitarian treatment is this? I have attached a photo of a family begging to the agencies to open up their ration card. I hope you will find a space to publish that photo.

The second issue is about mental health. A lot of people who have been suffering due to mental illness, and the numbers of suicides are rising. It is good to create awareness about suicide prevention, but doing this only occasionally cannot help us. Refugees need counseling, and I hope KANERE will raise this issue in future editions to sound the alarm for organizations and donors.

The third issue concerns documentation. The Refugee Affaires Secretariat (RAS) is understaffed. They need to add additional employees and budget so that they can more adequately serve refugees. It takes so long for us to retrieve vital documents and permissions. The latest figures that I have seen show that around 23,000 asylum seekers are waiting for decisions on their status. They lack interpreters, and this is a big challenge especially for those who do not speak Kiswahili.

Finally, the issue of Coronavirus: Refugees both in Kakuma and Kalobeyei are panicking due to news of the pandemic. I do not think the agencies will save us if the virus reaches here. Please let the world know that we have nothing to rely on. May Allah protect all of us.

I hope you will publish the above message.

Yours faithfully
Essa Suliyman – Kakuma Refugee Camp

Letter from the editors

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on July 31, 2019

Dear KANERE readers,

Welcome to our latest edition. We have had a long stretch without a new publication, largely due to the lack of funding for our operations, as well as interruptions while some staff and volunteers were moving from the camp to urban areas of Kenya or out of the region. However, our dedicated team in Kakuma – with the support of founding members abroad – will continue to work toward making KANERE a source of quality journalism.

Many of our stories are pertinent to various stakeholders in Kakuma, including refugees, the international community, and the humanitarian organizations that deliver aid. However, some of the stories will primarily be of interest to our audiences who live or have lived in the camp.

On July 10, armed conflict between Somali refugees and members of the host community resulted in at least three injuries, including that of a child. Our story includes analysis of the ways that such conflicts escalate and the repercussions for businesses and humanitarian operation in the camp.

In April, the Government of Kenya undertook a biometric registration process of all residents of the country in an attempt to prevent impersonation and fraud, authenticate personal data, and enhance access to government services. However, the programme has been criticized by citizens and right groups for publicizing citizens’ private information in violation of the constitution. A few months later, neither UNHCR nor the government’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) has commented on the ongoing biometric registrations of refugees in Kakuma. This silence has left many camp residents feeling uninformed.

This edition also includes articles covering an array of other issues pertinent to those living in Kakuma, including water shortages, a new mobile application designed for camp residents, and the lack of support for shelter maintenance and safety inspections. As is often the case, a number of the stories are distressing: we cover a wave of suicides by women in Kakuma, the murder and mutilation of a child in an outlying area of the camp, and the unsolved case of a bodaboda (motorbike) driver from Burundi whose murder remains a mystery to the community.

In an effort to use KANERE as a forum for perspectives from the refugee and host communities, we have included in this edition perspectives solicited from residents about Kalobeyei, a new site of refugee warehousing that has been described as an “integrated settlement”. We present a range of viewpoints on the prospects for integration at this site, some optimistic and others critical. Looking ahead, there is some disagreement on whether Kalobeyei should be called a new settlement or merely an extension of the Kakuma camps, an issue that will be discussed in our next edition.

As always, we thank all KANERE members and supporters for supporting the continuation of KANERE’s vital work disseminating up-to-date information and amplifying advocacy efforts by and for refugees. We strive to maintain a fair editorial decision emphasizing openness and integrity, and we continue to welcome submissions of timely stories and critical opinions to be considered for publication.

We also welcome commentary from camp residents, members of the host community, and those working within the humanitarian organizations to provide services to the warehoused populations. To contact our editorial team at KANERE, drop us an email at Kakuma.news@gmail.com

Sincerely,

Qaabata Boru, Elias Lemma & G. Ibrahim
KANERE Editorial Team