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
The stand of the Kenya government is not clear: are they fighting terrorism, refugees inside the country, or an ethnicity? (more…)
The Muslim congregation’s prayer turned into a battle with police following a large scale security operation in Eastleigh. (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…)
To all Kanere readers and supporters,
It is only now that we have finally gotten the 14th issue of KANERE online but don’t worry “a bad beginning makes a good ending”. This is a double issue of Kanere, thanks to our reporters and other contributors to the publication.
We intend to produce KANERE in a quarterly edition but that would entirely depend on the efforts of Kanere staff, feasibility and the climate of media freedom within the Kakuma environs. However, we would want to move Kanere onto the next level by producing a print version to reach out to most vulnerable members of the refugee community who could not be able to read Kanere online. It would cost a lot for now but when amicable funds are made available, we intend to produce more than a thousand copies per issue.
In this edition, I welcome an academic feature contribution by Mandy Jam, a Dutch graduate student in cultural anthropology, based at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Mandy conducted her ethnographic research for MA that focuses on refugees’ perceptions and other competing discourses on the mode of governmentality within the camp, while considering the desperate situation of refugee adults who are born in Kenya camps – but have no right to citizenship.
Secondly, we take this opportunity to welcome a “Refugee Newsletter” produced and managed by an NGO in Kakuma. The new twist is sponsored and edited by FilmAid that works under the umbrella of UNHCR. While Kanere is run and entirely operated by refugee exile journalists completely independent of humanitarian control.
In this edition, we have compiled multiple stories for you; despite the fact that Kakuma has always been marked by insecurity and violence, the camp was relatively calm for several months. However, in late May there were incidents of clashes between the Sudanese Nuer community and members of Turkana’s host community.
In the Lokori area in Turkana, banditry has been frequent and has claimed at least three lives between 17th – 27th April when an unknown number of raiders armed with AK47 rifles attacked a group of Turkana women who had gone to fetch water and firewood, while in a separate incident, around 30 bandits attacked a Public Service Vehicle, setting it ablaze while the passengers escaped unhurt according to G4S April monthly report.
At Kanere News, the unfavorable climate of press freedom in Kakuma has resulted in a few journalists leaving on insecurity cases while a few reporters stepped aside from voluntary contributing to Kanere as they lacked support from the camp authority.
In December 2012, the government passed a negative directive to force urban refugees into camps, which later escalated to a dramatic increase in attacks. In January, the Kenyan High Court ordered the authorities to suspend the refugee relocation plans according to which more than 50,000 refugees and asylum seekers are supposed to leave urban areas of Kenya, but by the middle of May the court had not yet made a ruling on the negative decision.
However, in May, at least 45 refugees traveling to Nairobi were arrested on their way and arraigned at Eldoret court and charged with being illegal migrants, while at least six people died in the April – May floods in Kakuma.
And still the UNHCR Head of Sub-Office continues to receive the influx of new arrivals, the majority being South Sudanese. In the annual event of World Refugee Day, tens and thousands turned out to mark the historic event at Napata grounds in the camp. There are several other interesting stories that constitute this publication.
On our social media, we bring up news and events around the camp and Kakuma town with Kanere reporters in different sections of Kakuma; we bring up debatable issues. Tell us about your experiences, thoughts, let us read the latest and reality reporting on the unfolding happening inside a refugee camp.
Kanere would like to receive contributions from both the host and refugee communities and the NGOs’ staff, as we welcome diversity of culture in these multinational interactions. We truly believe that journalism should be strengthened, but not undermined, looking at the current status of journalism practiced in Kakuma. With no doubts you’ll find the difference between KANERE (a refugee-run) and an NGO-run newsletter!
We’re open to suggestions and debate on refugee affairs. In this true spirit of independent refugee media inside the camp, we will need your support to grow and develop! Share your experiences with us, pitch in news tips and send us feedback on our stories and concerns to, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone can get involved in supporting and towards strengthening development of Kanere. Keep spreading the message in your networks, and you may ‘like’ Kanere on our social media page. I hope you’ll enjoy reading our issues.
Till next edition!