Transgender in Kakuma: We are dying help us!

“We in a miserable situation dying, having nothing to eat and no where to sleep. We are dying help us dear madam.”

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Trans in Kakuma © Transgender refugees c/o AHRC 2018

I am Melanie Nathan and I direct The African Human Rights Coalition. This is what I have to report on this transgender day of visibility: I have been in direct contact with each of the seven transgender refugees who were attacked this week outside of the UNHCR compound at Kakuma Camp, Kenya. Since I reported the following on this Blog, yesterday, the situation has become increasingly critical:

A group of Transgender people from Uganda’s LGBTI refugee community in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, have been reliving the horror that they thought they had escaped when leaving the violence perpetrated on them in their home countries. Instead of the bounds of UNHCR and their host country providing safe haven and protection, a preventable attack leaves the seven refugees seriously injured, including one in a coma.  THE FULL ARTICLE WITH PICTURES CAN BE READ HERE.

While remaining in contact after the attack, we received specific information pertaining to the injuries of each refugee and an update as to their condition, hoping that UNHCR had found at least an interim solution for their protection and care. That does not seem to be the case.

Below is a direct communication from one of the refugees, reflecting a heartbreaking account of the cruel treatment which continues as I write this. We have edited out their whereabouts for safety reasons. This communications  asserts that UNHCR is still failing to protect the refugees, even going so far as to expose them further to the attacks.  Presuming this direct account is accurate it is clear that the Kenyan police are complicit in their harsh and cruel treatment, and that the LGBT community inside the camp is unable to shelter the group as this would only further endanger their own security.

Hello dear madam,

Hope you doing alright today.  We were again attacked yesterday which was 8:00 am, 30.march.2018 by the national locals known as the turkana and this was that worse because the people were big in number compared on the attack before and all of us we were beaten up seriously with no mercy and no one was there to help us because it was a Good Friday we jumped inside the UNHCR to save our lives but even the locals get inside the UNHCR to kill us and  even the UNHCR officers they removed us in the covers we were hiding. And throw us outside to the locals to beat us. we were beaten up seriously and all of us we got serious wounds until when the police came in and stopped what was going on.

We were all taken inside the police car by the officer beating us pulling our hair and we were taken to the police where after we left and they brought us in the community where we ran before and right now we are in the community but nothing we have because every thing we had was burnt, all our clothes , bed sheets and bucket and the remaining food we had  we burnt infront the UNHCR compound and where by right now we just having only the clothes we are wearing and we haven’t eaten any thing at all right now we are.

We even slept outside because we don’t have where to stay and even all our medication was destroyed and all the phones we destroyed unless those which were on the charger only two phones.  The police brought us back in the community beating us inside the police car and even when we reached the community they continue beating us.  After awhile the UNHCR officers came to see us in the community and after then they called the IRC ambulance to rush us in the hospital because of all our condition wasnt pleasant at all.

We were taken in the hospital and our wounds were covered and even they have us some pain killers to take then the IRC ambulance brought us back to the community.

In the evening they UNHCR officers came back to see and talk to us then they left went away without giving any assistance to us at all.

And right now we are hiding our self  because we can’t stay with in other lgbi memwbers because they even don’t want us.  We are dying dear madam and all of us  the transgender who were protesting to UNHCR  we are together in this bad situation suffering

AND. This are the information of the other  gay members you requested for  but we were only able to get information  of  the two Gays
And they were all there when they attacked us yesterday and even them were beaten seriously .
We in a miserable situation dying,  having nothing to eat and no where to sleep. We are dying help us dear madam

While we have yet to hear UNHCR ‘s side of this story, there are no circumstances under which any of this could possibly be acceptable.  We are investigating to see what UNHCR told the refugees. However they have clearly not yet provided a solution that places the refugees in any safe protection,- you will note the refugee mentions they are in hiding.

Surely UNHCR is able to take control of this situation by finding a safe protection environment for 10 people, even in the interim until there is a permanent solution.

It would seem that protesting their circumstances has only served to harm these refugees, who are the most vulnerable, further. These young LGBT people are being treated with little to no dignity.  This must change, and it must change rapidly, before someone loses their life.

This is UNHCR’s problem and they must fix it immediately.

I am also calling on the global Transgender community and human rights defenders around the world to come to the aid of  trans people in Kakuma and in African countries where  persecution is exacerbated by laws and governments.  Melanie Nathan, ED at African HRC,  @MelanieNathan1,

African Human Rights Coalition needs urgent donations to provide food for the refugees.   Please contribute to this campaign: YOU CARING SITE HERE.


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By Melanie Nathan


5 thoughts on “Transgender in Kakuma: We are dying help us!

  1. This is just horrific! Where, indeed, is the UNHCR in all of this??? As you say, this is only 10 people– surely they aren’t pretending it’s “too much” to give them shelter/some food/clothing while the UNHCR figures out the next step?

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