CALL TO ACTION to FREE BLOCK 13 Kakuma And Ways You Can Help
On March 15 at 2:45am Kenya time, homophobic attackers set LGBTQ+ people on fire while they were sleeping at Block 13 of Kakuma Refugee Camp. This horrific act of violence resulted in Jordan and Trinidad being severely burned. The burns were so extensive that they covered huge areas of their bodies, including their feet, legs and for one of the victims, the burns extended to his upper body.
After two days of languishing in pain without adequate medical care, UNHCR transported Jordan and Trinidad by ambulance to Lodwar County Hospital, about 125km from Kakuma. In doing this, UNHCR went against the recommendation of first responders and community members who knew that Nairobi hospitals were most equipped to offer the care the two burn victims need.
At Lodwar Hospital, they were left in the waiting room, without proper handing over to medical staff and without instruction to the caretakers on how to proceed. They have been waiting for several hours to see a doctor, while being told Lodwar Hospital does not have the capacity to treat them.
This incident is the latest in a long list of vicious attacks against LGBTQ+ refugees at Kakuma Block 13. Two fire attacks on January 29th and February 15th 2021 saw at least 4 gay men set ablaze by other migrants. LGBTQ+ refugees are unsafe and experience different forms of physical and sexual violence on a daily basis; from beatings and torching to slashing and rape. The slow response by the police and other authorities normalises and perpetuates the violence, vulnerabilities, and indignity experienced by LGBTQ+ refugees.
Despite years of urging by organisations to act and protect LGBTQ+ refugees at the Kakuma camp, the UNHCR has shown little political will and commitment to intervene. This is in direct violation of UNHCR’s mandate to “aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people, and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.”
An international coalition of organizations including Coalition of African Lesbians, JASS Southern Africa, Triangle Project, Global Interfaith Network, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project and others stand with LGBTQ+ survivors in their demands for the following:
- The UNHCR must airlift the two severely burned victims of the homophobic attack on Block 13 to Nairobi for treatment.
- The UNHCR must transfer the entire LGBTQ+ Block 13 Group at risk to the transit center and immediately provide them with highly accountable 24/7 security as urgent evacuation plans are being put in place.
- The UNHCR must evacuate the LGBTQ+ Block 13 Group at risk from Kakuma to Nairobi by Thursday, March 18th, and expedite their resettlement as they are survivors of intensive and unending homophobic attacks.
- The Kenyan government and all its institutions have a duty to protect everyone within their borders regardless of their citizenship status. Protecting refugees is the primary responsibility of the State.
- We call on all our allies and partners, human rights organisations and defenders to share this statement / issue yours and stand in unequivocal solidarity with the community in Block 13.
UNHCR must act now and provide emergency support to injured LGBTQ+ refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
The Victor Mukasa Show
@vicmukasa on Twitter
Coalition of African Lesbians
@CALAdvocacy on Twitter
JASS Southern Africa
@jass4justice on Twitter and Instagram
@TriangleOrg on Twitter and @triangleproject_za on Instagram
Global Interfaith Network
@ginssogie on Twitter and Instagram
Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project
@officialBLMP on Twitter and Instagram
Here’s how you can take action:
- Tweet at UNHCR High Commissioner @FilippoGrandi and UNHCR Kenya representative @Fathiaabdalla. Demand they airlift the burn victims to Nairobi for treatment and evacuate Block 13 from Kakuma where they face constant homophobic and transphobic violence.
- Sign the petition urging the UNHCR to ensure the safety of LGBTQ people at Kakuma by relocating them to Nairobi.
- Make a donation to the burn victims’ fund by emailing Shanice@triangle.org.za
Social Media Samples:
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- @FilippoGrandi @Fathiaabdalla We support the demands of those facing homophobic and transphobic anti-Black violence in Block 13 at Kakuma Refugee Camp #FreeBlock13 #LGBTQKakuma #UNHCR #UNHCRKenya
- @FilippoGrandi @Fathiaabdalla 4 gay men were set ablaze in February and 2 more men in March. How many LGBTQ people have to be attacked before you are moved to act? Relocate Block 13 to Nairobi now. #FreeBlock13 #LGBTQKakuma #UNHCR #UNHCRKenya
- @FilippoGrandi @Fathiaabdalla Your apathy is responsible for the violence against LGBTQ people at Kakuma. Do your job. Airlift Jordan and Trinidad to Nairobi where they can access life saving medical care. #FreeBlock13 #LGBTQKakuma #UNHCR #UNHCRKenya
- @FilippoGrandi @Fathiaabdalla The violence against LGBTQ+ people at Kakuma must end. LGBTQ refugees’ lives are at risk while the UNHCR lacks the political will to intervene. #FreeBlock13 #LGBTQKakuma #UNHCR #UNHCRKenya
@FilippoGrandi @Fathiaabdalla LGBTQ+ refugees at Kakuma experience physical and sexual violence on a daily basis; from beatings and torching to slashing and rape. Do your job. Relocate them to Nairobi now. #FreeBlock13#LGBTQKakuma #UNHCR #UNHCRKenya