Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Refugee Verification Exercise

A unified refugee verification exercise in Kakuma was meant to collect refugees’ data (more…)

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Passengers taken hostage at Kainak, Turkana

Posted in Human Rights, Kakuma Town and Kenya, News Updates by KANERE on December 25, 2014

More than 700 people including a dozen refugees from Kakuma refugee camp were among those held hostage. (more…)

Murder at Kakuma2

Posted in News Updates, Peace and Security by KANERE on April 16, 2012

A shocking murder occurred at Kakuma2 where a 14 year old male child of Somali refugees was killed by gun shot.

Ref: CR 823/174/2011 – The Kakuma case of the murder of Abdullahi Mohamed Abdi, a juvenile who was shot and killed by unknown persons around 10:00Pm on the night of 19th November 2011.  The incident happened at Kakuma2, zone1, block13. That evening the child had supper with the rest of the family members and went to a neighbour’s home to watch the football game.

He was returning home when he was suddenly stopped by the robbers who were armed with AK 47 rifles and who shot the child on the head without asking any questions. A bullet penetrated through his head and extracted a large portion of the brain and tissue. The bullet left a large exit wound on the back of the head upon exiting. Abdullahi died on the spot at the entrance of his home.

The number of the gang was not identified, however the gunmen are suspected to be from the host community. They are thought to have intruded into residential areas after destroying the fence that borders the Kakuma2 market. The gunmen crossed the main road and went up to the house where they hid and killed the child in an ambush.

The gunmen intensified tension and scared off the family and community members by firing over ten shots randomly. None of the residents in the neighbourhood were able to leave their homes to come to thje rescue of the child. The bullet casings were found on the ground the following morning and were handed over to the police.

The family arrived in the Kakuma camp in 2008 after they were relocated by UNHCR from the Dadaab Refugee camp due to the family’s “insecurity problems.” Since the family lost a child during a time they are supposed to receive protection from UNHCR, this could prove that the family has a well founded fear of persecution as the police, UNHCR and Camp management securities have not established the motive of the murder.

According to the camp security department, the security situation in the camp is stable despite a few unpredictable incidents. “The security situation is fine, police patrols are on 24 hours and local refugee guards are also in liaisons with security agencies,” said a security official speaking to KANERE anonymously

The family members have been feeling terrorized since the murder. The elder brother of the deceased child has experienced frequent nightmares. “Our security is bad, I don’t know why they killed my brother. We can’t live here like this every day after Dadaab camps,” said the brother of the victim. The mother, a paraplegic, cannot eat or walk around without support. She has also developed high blood pressure.

Kakuma2 is located between kakuma1 and 3. The settlement was not served by any security Agency. It is situated between the HongKong police post and the Kakuma3 police post. According to Kakuma2 residents who spoke to KANERE, the General Service Unit (GSU) arrived at the scene of the murder following the gun shots, which were heard across the camp. But no local guards or any members of the community were able to come out to speak with the GSU soldiers and so they were not provided with information about the murder. The local guards were unable to transmit communications to the police and to UNHCR because their radio hand sets were running on poor batteries.

The body of the child laid in the same spot until dawn when the family and residents woke up to find brain debris splashed on the ground and the body soaked in blood. The atmosphere was gloomy as the whole community mourned the untimely death of the child. The police transferred the body to the Kakuma Refugee Hospital.

The residents of block13 were outraged over rampant insecurity at Kakuma2. “We can’t sleep at night, children are crying. Some nights, there is no police patrol. We are in fear,” said Amina, a Somali woman. The residents have closed the main highway that connects Kakuma 1 and Kakuma 3 through HongKong because the residents believe the road connected many small pathways which facilitated crime.

The family of the deceased child and two other families also vacated their homes. According to the police, the motive of the killing has not yet been established and the case is still pending investigation.

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Violent Robbery in Kakuma1

Posted in News Updates, Peace and Security by KANERE on April 16, 2012

Three male and two female Ethiopian refugees in kakuma1 zone1 block11 barely escape death at gunpoint; robbers attempt to rape one of the females.

On the 18th night of January 2012 at 03:00am, a gang of five unknown men armed with AK 47 rifles broke into the shop that is attached to the family home of Sija, a 20 year old Ethiopian male refugee. The men are suspected to be from the host community. They robbed the house and attempted to rape one of the female relatives.

The robbers destroyed the fence of Clinic 4 and broke another smaller gate before reaching the community. They also broke the third gate before accessing the family compound. One of the family members was sleeping outside the house and was woken up by whispers. He was then tied with rope to a tree. Upon hearing unfamiliar murmers outside the house, Sija opened the door to the house where four relatives were sleeping only to be ordered at gunpoint “to lie down.” “I was shocked by the strange reality, I was ordered to lie down at gunpoint,” said Sija  Immediately, three armed men forced themselves into the house and ordered. “No one move; all of you lie down.”

They searched the house and took valuable items: a Television, two DVD players, two Amplifiers, a solar panel, a box of 1.5V batteries, an inventor and some household utensils from the kitchen. The robbers asked for mobile phones and cash. “They woke me up, then one of them put a gun near my neck and told me to choose death or produce money,” added Sija

Sija suspects that the men must have known him and his house very well. They probably knew that the victim had the amount of money in the house. Despite the community being well fenced and gated,  the gang knew all the routes.

Attempted Rape
The robbers then attempted to rape the youngest female, a 15 year-old with fresh wounds from her month old caesarian birth. She talked to reporters in tears. After she was taken to the corner of the room, she struggled to resist an older man in his 30s. “He slapped me and pinned me down on the floor. I couldn’t allow him to… I’d prefer to die than to be raped before the eyes of my own brother,” said Mita.

The two male relatives who were lying down at gunpoint roared in an agony and pleaded not to have their female partners raped while they were alive. The men and Mita were beaten and sustained severe injuries. The rape was not successful.

After about an hour and a half, the robbers left the family compound. They packed everything and escaped through the same route. No gun shot was heard at the scene of the incident.

Rescue
After the armed men had gone, the family were alarmed. The local guards and members of the community responded quickly. The police officers were alerted, and they visited the scene and found that the suspects had long disappeared.

However, with the help of the police, the trail that was disappearing towards the nearby village was followed together with about 20 people from the Ethiopian community. At about 05:15am, five suspected persons from the host community were arrested by the police in Natir1 village following the trekking of their foot steps and bicycles tires that lead into their homestead.

Early that morning, all the victims were able to record their statement with police. Among the five victims, only the minor girl of 15 was able to secure protection from UNHCR despite the claim of fear by the rest of the family. “We’ve gone everywhere. We’ve not got any protection assistance. We’ are in fear both day and night,” reported a family member.

The victims still complain of threats from individuals in the host community and fear that their case is being neglected. They do not understand why the security departments have failed to restore the lost property. According to a police statement, the case is still pending investigation though the suspects were released.

On the 11th of January 2012 at about 02:00hours in Kakuma1 zone1 block10, a gang armed with an AK 47 rifle invaded a hotel attached to a homestead of a 32 year-old female refugee in the Ethiopian community. The culprits accessed her compound after destroying the fence of Clinic 4 and proceeded to the house/hotel on breaking the main door. She reported that they stole a laptop, three Cameras, six mobile phones, clothes and Ksh 280,000 in cash. The robbers shot in the air while they were escaping. The victim complained to have sustained minor injuries. The case was reported to the police who visited the scene.

Additionally, several cases of robberies, murders, thefts and assaults have been occurring across the camp. While a majority of such cases get reported to authorities some do go unreported. When crimes are repored,  residents complain of inadequate follow-ups and weak security monitoring.

Over the past year, the relations between the host community and refugee population have improved but lately violent incidents have increased despite more police patrol vehicles and police posts being established in the camp settlement.

Two Refugee Children Die in a Seasonal River in Kakuma Camp

Posted in News Updates, Uncategorized by KANERE on April 16, 2012

“I was shocked to hear my children drowned a short time after having lunch together. I could not believe it when I found them already dead!

A refugee family from the Great Lakes lost their 12- and 15-year old boys in a pool of water a few days after torrential rain caused damage to the refugee population. According to the family, the two boys had their lunch on the 27th of December, 2011 at about 15:45Hrs and then went to play together with neighbours from the same block. “I was shocked to hear my children were drowned,” said the mother of the children. “We had lunch together and I could not believe my ears but only to find them already dead,” she added.

The incident happened at 16:00Hrs at the Nabek seasonal river where activities like brick making and watering vegetables take place before it dries up. The two boys were from the Burundian community of Kakuma 1, Zone 4, Block 1. Eye witnesses say that perhaps they went to the deepest area of the stagnant pool and then were submerged under water because none of them knew how to swim. The elder went to the deepest point of the pool, so his younger brother went to rescue him but tragically drowned in the process. “I saw many children swimming and a moment later one was drowning. I started shouting, and there was no body around except the helpless young boys who surrounded me…,” said Alex, a class 4 pupil in the camp primary school. Community members responded to the scene but they found that the two brothers were already dead in the water. The incident was reported both to the UNHCR and LWF Camp security and to the Kenya police. The UNHCR field and security staff visited the scene and the affected family. The corpses were removed and taken to the refugee camp hospital mortuary. The bodies were released to the family for burial on the 28th of December, 2011.

Several reports have indicated that rains in the mountainous area that surrounds the camp and some from Ugandan side always cause seasonal flooding in the camp, and from time to time individuals have lost their lives. Two years ago a Kakuma Mission Hospital vehicle was waterlogged at Kalobei village killing a nun and two medical personnel one of whom served at the IRC Camp Hospital. In November 2011, Hassan Sade , a 19 -year old Somali male refugee, went missing after three days of flooding in Kakuma 1, Zone 2, Block 10. Relatives reported that Hassan developed mental illness in Kakuma. Two days later his swollen body was found submerged in the sandy flow of the river about 20km away from the Kakuma Camp Lokichogio road.

Security measures have been taken, and all humanitarian agencies have been advised not to travel or drive through the flooded river inside or outside the camp. KANERE urges refugees in the Camp not to  swim or leave their children unattended in the hazardous areas.

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Tragic Accident

Posted in Kakuma Town and Kenya, Uncategorized by KANERE on April 16, 2012

Lodwar district accident claimed 36 lives while at least 84 others incurred severe injuries; refugees still await compensation from the Eldoret Bus Company.

On Saturday 24 Sep 2011, along Kakuma –an Eldoret company bus dashed off Lodwar road at Nasiger killing 36 passengers. At least 84 other people wer injured terribly. The accident happened at 5:30PM as the bus approached Lodwar. The bus, which was traveling from Kakuma to Lodwar – Kitale – Nairobi routes, hit a pot hole before it overturned and rolled. The front tires ran out while the vehicle was in motion causing casualties. “They were running in bad speed, they rolled several times before landing on the roof,” said a survivor.

UNHCR made arrangements to collect and transport the bodies to Kakuma 2 grave yard, where they were buried at 16:30PM the following day. At the Lodwar District hospital the police issued an abstract for all the dead bodies to families and UNHCR staff.

Survivors report that the bus was speeding even though the roads are in poor condition. “The bus was speeding and overloaded at the time of the accident, that was what I can recall,” said Tura an Ethiopian refugee.

According to the Red Cross rescue team, which was first to arrive at the scene, the accident was the worst of the season. The official stated that the front tires of the vehicle separated and the body was extensively damaged. “The bus was overloaded and some passangers were standing when the accident happened,” added a Sudanese woman

According to a reliable source, two doctors and one nurse from International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Kakuma were sent to Lodwar District hospital to aid in emergency response following the accident. Seven refugees were referred to Nairobi for further treatment.

Nasiger has already been marked as a dangerous spot. A number of vehicles have been involved in accidents on that route due both to negligence and to traffic. On the 29th of January at about 14:45Pm, the rear right tire of a Kenyan Police security vehicle burst upon reaching Nasiger center along Lodwar – Kakuma highway.  The driver lost control after the tire burst, and the vehicle hit a tree resulting in serious damage. The vehicle was returning from Kitale where it had escorted a UNHCR official.

According to a report from local authorities, the vehicle had several passengers mainly police officers including Kakuma based humanitarian staff who had been offered a lift from Kitale. Five police officers sustained body and limb injuries and three passengers were transported to the Lodwar District Hospital for first aid and treatment. Seriously injured victims were evacuated to Nairobi by a police aircraft on Monday, 30January 2012.  Three other staff members from Kakuma humanitarian organizations were also involved.

Seven refugee families with family members among the 36 casualtiess are still waiting to be compensated with assistance from the UNHCR Sub – Office Kakuma and the Kakuma court. The cases will be heard in a Kenyan court which will determine what amount of compensation will be made to the families of deceased person and to injured persons as defined under Kenyan Law.

On 16 Dec 2011 all refugee families of victims were informed in a meeting by the UNHCR official that the cases could be brought before the court in January 2012. This has not happened yet and the refugees are still waiting.