UNHCR is deeply concerned by a number of messages we have received in recent days from individuals outside of Kenya indicating that they have been the recipients of information concerning a small group of refugees and asylum seekers in Kakuma camp who have self-identified as LGBTI and have expressed feelings of trauma and, in some instances, suicidal thoughts. We are in contact with this group and will continue, together with our partners, to provide them with all the necessary support that they may need. UNHCR’s experience around the world has sadly shown the emotional and social suffering by refugees and asylum-seekers who have experienced years of profound exclusion, marginalization, shaming, exploitation and violence.
UNHCR and partners have set up a range of counseling services and supports in order to provide psychosocial services and psychiatric support in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement. The services have been further strengthened in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which are available to some 196,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered there and are currently being utilized by many refugees and asylum-seekers, among them some with an LGBTI profile. On average, more than 600 psychosocial interventions are provided per month in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement where refugees and asylum-seeker receive counseling, therapeutic support and home-visit.
Currently, the main partner organization for response to and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), a blanket term that encompasses many forms of violence and exploitation, provides assessment and case management for people with experiences of SGBV, including LGBTI refugees and asylum-seekers.
A routine part of the case management is psychosocial counselling according to a tailormade case management plan, which is agreed together with the client. In cases in which SGBV survivors develop complex or severe mental health issues, there is an agreement between the SGBV partner organization and more specialized partners for psychotherapeutic support intervention, including for LGBTI persons who present suicidal ideations. There is also a system in place for case conferences, with the client’s consent, in which different professionals discuss how to best support that client. If people need psychiatric care, including medication, where appropriate, the medical partner organization in Kakuma is brought in. This partner organization has an experienced psychiatric clinical officer and availability of the medicine from the World Health Organization model list of essential medications.
Despite the limited available resources, we believe that UNHCR and partners are able to provide an acceptable basic level of mental health and psychosocial support services for those in need within the complex humanitarian context in Kakuma.
Helpline Team | UNHCR Nairobi
Toll-free Helpline (Telephone): 0800720063
African Human Rights Coalition