Filippo Grandi stresses the need to support those forced to flee because of their sexual orientation and gender identity | However, the UNHCR office in Uganda has refused to help L:GBTI Refugees!
The Chief of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, called for solidarity with LGBTI people who are forced to flee their homes because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Grandi made the plea in a video address to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), which is this year around the theme of Alliances for Solidarity.
Mr. Grandi highlighted the importance of formal and informal networks and coalitions in providing protection and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people.
“As human beings we all rely on our support networks, be it family, friends, or community and religious groups,” Grandi said. “When people flee their homes and communities, their support networks become fragile and broken, and the protection risks they face often become more acute.”
Grandi stressed that LGBTI refugees and internally displaced people, frequently more than others, are confronted with this challenge, even in countries of asylum.
“It is up to all of us … to ensure the voices of LGBTI displaced and stateless people are listened to.”
“Finding and developing adequate support networks is therefore crucial to the realization of their rights and enabling them to pursue their aspirations in the countries and communities in which they seek protection,” said Grandi.
The UNHCR news website noted that :
For years, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has been responding to the protection needs of LGBTI displaced and stateless people.
Indeed this is true, but it is not enough!
In my capacity as Executive Director of The African Human Rights Coalition I note:
While appreciating Mr. Grandi’s comments designed to bring attention to refugees on this year’s IDAHOT, what he says UNHCR has done barely touches the surface of what is needed.
Much of the problems are at the feet of UNHCR, charged with protecting refugees. Host Governments are hostile and countries such as the United States are tardy in moving faster to accept LGBT refugees as an important priority. They must be prioritized because they are simply not safe in host countries, unlike fellow refugees who are heterosexual. LGBTI refugees in several regions continue to report that their particular insecurities and challenges are not being adequately considered and satisfactorily handled, such as in Kakuma Camp Kenya, where food rations are insufficient and refugees languish in hostile, unsanitary and debilitating conditions.
In some countries such as Uganda, UNHCR is failing to work to combat the roadblocks as set by homophobic governments, which refuse to register LGBTI people as refugees in their countries. This has resulted in LGBTI people being in limbo in foreign countries, without any means to support themselves or ability to move forward with a viable process for possible resettlement. They cannot return to their home countries and they have nowhere to go. There are few advocating fro change.
After lengthy advocacy and much uncertainty we at African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC) managed to get UNHCR in Senegal and Malawi to work outside of local host government roadblocks and in the instance of several refugees who we advocated for, UNHCR was able to affect resettlement to Canada. However, the UNHCR office in Uganda has ignored our advocacy reports and requests for action for particular refugees, causing much consternation and facilitating a dead-end. This past week 5 LGBT people protested at the UNHCR compound in Uganda , and report that they have been ignored.
Grandi went on to note:
“We each have an important role to play,” Grandi said. “We can strengthen LGBTI refugees’ and IDPs’ support networks, encouraging governments, civil society, humanitarian and development actors, donors, academia, the private sector to help ensure that all refugees, internally displaced and stateless people are treated as equals in dignity and rights.”
In this realm of LGBTI human rights, we need much more help than we are receiving, and the LGBT refugees seem far down on the list of local civil societies, human rights defenders and overseas NGOs. We have no funding to do our work. While preeminent wealth organizations in the United Sates such as Human Rights Campaign (HRC) run a $50,000,000 per year budget, and their CEO and several executives receive hefty $240,000 – $500,000 per annum salary, I have seen little work or support directed toward global LGBT refugees and asylum seekers and their humanitarian and advocacy needs. I know this may not be in the HRC mission – but I think it is time. After all the global community is the ONLY family LGBTI refugees can turn to!
According to the UNHCR news site, Grandi said UNHCR has taken steps including establishing networks and training staff and partners to ensure that its programs are safe and inclusive of LGBTI people. Indeed this has occurred to a limited extent in most of Africa, but has been more robust in Kenya. The programs do not ensure safety and only include limited inclusivity at this time. Granted it’s the fellow straight refugees that tend to target LGBT people. However UNHCR must do more and it must act with haste.
“It is up to all of us, in operations around the world, to ensure the voices of LGBTI displaced and stateless people are listened to and incorporated into all aspects of our work,” Grandi continued. “And that we as individuals contribute to inclusive working environments that value and support the contributions of LGBTI colleagues and their families.”
To be genuine to his word, Mr. Grandi must do much more for LGBTI refugees in the care of UNHCR, by creating separate programs and separate safe shelters in all regions, to accommodate LGBT refugees. Mr. Grandi must also ensure that UNHCR offices in Uganda, Malawi and Senegal move swiftly and not hide being local government homophobia. And that said, lets see the global community wake up to Africa! The LGBT refugee community there is suffering greatly.`
RECENT ATTACKS ON LGBT REFUGEES:
There is a large group of Ugandan LGBTI refugees who are in Kakuma Camp, in Kenya. These refugees have been fleeing Uganda’s anti-homosexuality climate, which was heightened by the passage of the now defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, otherwise known as “The Kill the Gays Bill. ” Some have been there for several years in … More Ugandan LGBTI Refugees Under UNHCR to Walk Out with Nowhere to Go
“We in a miserable situation dying, having nothing to eat and no where to sleep. We are dying help us dear madam.” 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 … More Transgender in Kakuma: We are dying help us!
“This kind of life has had many people dead inside, alive only on the outside.” A lesbian refugee who was resettled in the U.S.A. earlier in the year. 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 … More Transgender Refugees under UNHCR Protection Attacked at Kenyan Camp, One in Coma
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