Update TUE 18. May 2019: (rb) After having been subjected to a number of back and forth shuffles, today a large number of those who had fled from the Kakuma camp to Nairobi for security or medical reasons - and had deliberately not been assisted by UNHCR - were taken from the police cells, bundled under armed guard into a bus and sent back to Kakuma refugee camp in the harsh remote North of Turkana county. This includes highly pregnant single mothers with their children. Only a last-second intervention by a human rights organization prevented that even one serverely ill woman, who has an appointment at the national referral hospital - the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) - in the coming week for the continuous treatment of a tumor - something which simply can not be done in the camp - was sent off. To even have arrested her, put her into police cells and then to have placed her on the deportation bus to the detention camp two days travel away from Nairobi is in the first place a clear violation of her human rights and criminal neglect of any humanitarian principles. UNHCR lays the blame for such atrocity squarely on the Kenyan Government's Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), which in turn then usually blames the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Interior (the minister in charge of security, who regularly argues based on alleged terrorism threats, based on U.S. narratives). But UNHCR is the co-signatory to the recent directive, that supports the brutal encampment policy despite a pending High-court case, that already had ruled against it but the ruling was not implemented because an appeal by the state is pending decision (since years). If UNHCR doesn't put its foot down in Kenya concerning all these mistreatments, blatant neglect of cases and the waste of time in refugee's lives, then UNHCR clearly violates the Refugee Conventions and UNHCR's own policies. Once again and also under the new country director Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR Kenya branch has proven to be NOT part of any solution but a core part of the problem.
UPDATE MON 13. May 2019: The arrested refugees were brought before court and charged with a) Creating disturbance, b) Unlawful assembly c) Incitement to violence and some with d) Rescue by force e) Assaulting police officers. The judge decided that they should be brought back to court the next day and be kept in the cells. Legal defence was nowhere to be seen.
UPDATE SUN 12. May 2019: Police had then arrested 5 more refugees, who went in the evenings to Kileleshwa police station in Nairobi, where the previously arrested refugees were detained in police cells to demand the release of those unfairly arrested, registered refugees. Friends among the refugees had to bring food to the detained since 09th May.
UPDATE: FRI 10. May 2019: Police failed to produce the arrested in court an kept them in the cells. Violation o Kenya law by the Kenyan police.
Legal rights assistance - outsourced by UNHCR to a local NGO with little effect and experience - failed to even show up.
NOWHERE TO HIDE
Seven refugees injured, 30 arrested, 17 detained as police break up protest at UNHCR. Some had bleeding gums and scars on their faces.
By RAHMADAN RAJAB (*) - TSt - 11. May 2019 (Edited by O. Owino)
• Refugees have been picketing since Monday seeking an audience with UNHCR and asking for the removal of commissioner Kodeck Makori.
•They complain of ill-treatment and extortion.
Seven refugees were injured and 17 detained during a protest at UN refugee agency offices in Westlands, Nairobi - Kenya. The over 200 refugees have been camping at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices for over seven months.
This reporter witnessed the police and G4S officers rounding up some of the refugees and descending on them with blows and kicks.
Others were beaten with pipes and timber rods, as tear gas canisters were lobbed to disperse those who seemed defiant.
Of those injured some had bleeding gums and scars on their faces. Others writhed in pain, complaining of broken ribs.
G4S officers later gathered all belongings of the refugees and set them on fire.
The leader of the refugees, Moses Bazira, had blisters and scars.
Bazira said they have been picketing at the offices since Monday, seeking an audience with UNHCR country representative and commissioner to Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat.
“We have been sleeping in the cold here for over seven months. Others here are seeking protection; some want documentation while others need resettlement,” Bazira said.
“But instead of being given protection we need as refugees, we have been abused, violently beaten and sometimes rounded up. Feeling dejected, on Monday we decided to stage a peaceful protest.”
They complained of being tossed from one agency to another by both RAS and UNHCR officers, being beaten up by G4S officers on orders from UNHCR. They also complained of police extortion.
“I have been here for over two weeks. Even though my stipend for upkeep has been approved. UNHCR officers always sent me to HIAS. When I arrive at HIAS offices I am sent back here and the circle continues,” Simon Ruta said.
“This being taken round in circles is aimed at pushing me to fatigue so that I give up, or have to bribe to get my dues,” he said.
“Those who bribe RAS and UNHCR officers have their protection, travel documents, resettlement, financial assistances processed faster and they don't spend a day here,” Kivonge Ronald said in claims RAS commissioner Kodeck Makori denied.
Mandeeq Omar said she was arrested and thrown to Lang'ata police cells where she stayed for two months.
“I was released but I came here to demand where my child who was separated from me was. But all we have been treated to is beatings, clothes, and papers burnt,” she said.
“We are defenceless people. Why do police and G4S turn on us with guns, batons and tear gas? All we are asking is for Makori to go. We don’t want him. He is behind our pain,” Alfred Mutete said.
During the melee children, pregnant women and disabled were not spared.
“What were they doing at UNHCR offices? There is no camp and home there. How can they even complain of mishandling?” Makori said.
“You see they have a right to be protected but they have to accept that this county has laws and when they are told your issues will be sorted they should respect that. The problem is when they are besieging an office,” he added.
Makori said the refugees started by being unruly and riotous. They fought the police when they were being calmed, he stated.
“Most of them are not refugees but asylum seekers. There is a procedure for how asylum cases are sorted out. You don’t come here and dictate to us how you want things done,” Makori said.
He dismissed claims of demanding bribes, frustrating and setting the refugees and asylum seekers up for police extortion.
“If my officers are demanding bribes then they cannot go to UNHCR to complain. They should have come to our Lavington or Shauri Moyo officers. That has not happened,” he said.
Makori said the demands of the refugees were unrealistic and claims of bribery and ill-treatment insincere.
However, UNHCR, expressed its concerns after the protest and called for restraint, dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the situation.
“We regret that, despite our continuous efforts to engage with and offer solutions to protestors, the situation has deteriorated over the past 48 hours, with some refugees blocking roads and coming into a direct physical confrontation with a small number of police officers,” Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya said.
The UN body insisted its staff have been in regular contact with the group to understand their grievances and address them, and to offer its assistance.
“We will continue to closely follow events. We urge the group to stop preventing other refugees, some in a very vulnerable situation, from accessing our premises and receiving the counselling, protection and assistance that they need. We really hope that the violence of a few will not negatively impact the many other refugees living in Kenya,” Abdalla added.
(*) Author: RAMADHAN RAJAB, Political Writer
BIO: Ramadhan Rajab has written extensively on governance, social justice, human rights exposing excesses in the context of crime prevention, counter-terrorism, state administrative actions and public order operations for over a decade. He has told stories on refugees, minority and marginalised groups as well those on international affairs. (Edited by O. Owino)
NOTA BENE: RAS commissioner Kodeck Makori, a former military officer, does obviously not know that they are all refugees and doesn't understand the difference between refugees and asylum seekers and recognized refugees and asylees.
Many positions in the Refugee Affairs Secretariate, incl. camp management, on the Kenyan government side of the shared duty to care for the refugees, are filled by former members of the Armed Forces, Police Service or National Intelligence Service (NIS) - their perception and behaviour towards refugees is not what the refugees need.
Also members of Refugee Flag Kenya, an organisation that protects LGBTx refugees and asylum seekers, protested outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees offices in Nairobi, Kenya.
UN Calls for Restraint as Refugee Protest Turns Violent in Kenya
The UN refugee agency UNHCR has called for restraint after a protest organized by a group of refugees in front of the UNHCR office in Nairobi turned violent on Thursday.
May, 11, 2019
Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR's representative in Kenya, urged dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the situation after the police lobbed teargas canisters at the protesting refugees who were demanding their monthly payments.
"We regret that, despite our continuous efforts to engage with and offer solutions to protestors, the situation has deteriorated over the past 48 hours, with some refugees blocking roads and coming into direct physical confrontation with a small number of police officers," Abdalla said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
In the past two weeks, about 100 refugees and asylum seekers, including women and children, have camped in front of the UNHCR office in Kenya.
The refugees have accused the UN refugee agency for failing to remit their dues, putting them in precarious situation since they cannot afford food or housing.
Abdalla said the UNHCR staff have been in regular contact with the group to understand their grievances and address them, and to offer its assistance.
She said breaking the laws of their host country can only make the already difficult situation of this group of refugees worse, and risks encouraging anti-refugee sentiments.
"UNHCR remains committed to providing protection and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers, and we continue to advocate with all concerned for dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the current situation," said Abdalla, Xinhua news agency reported.
She said a small number of persons in the group on Wednesday started escalating the protests, encouraging demonstrators to block nearby roads and preventing UNHCR staff and others from entering or leaving UNHCR premises.
According to the UNHCR official, threats were also made against specific staff members and some security guards were beaten up.
Abdalla said additional police forces were deployed on Thursday to control the situation, after several protestors began throwing rocks and confronting law enforcement officials. Police had to use teargas to disperse the crowd and arrested 17 people.
"Fortunately, there have been no reports of serious injuries. The situation, although largely calm, remains unpredictable," noted Abdalla.
She called on the group to stop preventing other refugees, some in a very vulnerable situation, from accessing UNHCR premises and receiving the counseling, protection and assistance that they need.
"We really hope that the violence of a few will not negatively impact the many other refugees living in Kenya," she added.
Fathiaa Abdalla, though new to this post, seems to have learned an incorporated the colonial strategies of divide and conquer well into her own portifolio and easily turns the victims into culprits, but obviously she has not understood that the root causes are in her own house to be found. The criminal mycelium has deep roots and also forced already many honest UNHCR officers to resign in protest or frustration.
"threats were also made against specific staff members" - yes, names of allegedly corrupt UNHCR officers were written on placards the refuges were holding, whereby UNHCR must follow up on these allegations and not perceive them as threat. The refugees are the ones threatened here. Due to the rampant corruption in the UNHCR system, this UN organization is one which has been ordered from New York to even have a separate office to investigate crimes committed by their officers, the Inspector General (IG), that has to investigate all such allegations. What are they doing? Unfortunately not much, because even if they find out about specific UNHCR officers in the cleverly concealed corruption network, the IG can only report to the Country Representative, where the cases then often are just closed with a slap on the wrist of the culprit, who then mostly just continues with a refined system covering the scam. But because neither UNHCR with its protection office or the compliance office nor the IG has any real means to protect witnesses and whistle-blowers, are coming forward less and less, because once a case is reported, but the culprit is not restrained, the repercussions against the witness are immediate, brutal and serious. Who protects the refugee from a corrupt protection officer? Answer: Nobody in the UNHCR system and nobody in the Kenyan Government, because the Kenyan law protecting whistle-blowers only applies for Kenyan citizens and the relevant office for witness protection doesn't care about refugee cases and/or corrupt UNHCR officials, who in addition often carry UN passports and claim immunity from prosecution.
The UNHCR system is rotten and broken beyond repair.
And here you can see how bad, bad journalism produces Fake News about the above incident:
Nairobi — KENYAN police have arrested 17 refugees after protests by the migrants over some grievances turned violent.
More than 100 refugees have run amok over the past two weeks, allegedly beating up security guards at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' (UNHCR's) office in the capital Nairobi and threatening UNHCR staff members.
They have blocked roads and come into direct physical confrontations with some police officers. Rocks have allegedly been thrown at law enforcers.
The refugees, including women and children, have camped in front of the UNHCR base. They allege sloth in the processing of their documents and corruption.
Protests have escalated since Wednesday. Police have used teargas to disperse the crowd.
"The situation, although largely calm, remains unpredictable," said Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR's representative in Kenya.
Abdalla said they would continue to closely follow events.
The envoy urged protesting refugees to stop preventing others from accessing UNHCR premises for counselling, protection and assistance.
"We really hope that the violence of a few will not negatively impact the many other refugees living in Kenya," she added.
Abdalla said UNHCR was committed to providing protection and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.
"We continue to advocate with all concerned for dialogue and a peaceful resolution to the current situation."
The riots coincide with plans by Kenya to close the Dabaab refugee centre, which houses thousands of Somali refugees.
Kenya claims economic and political challenges worsened at the site owing to infiltration by the Islamist al-Shabaab militants.
"migrants" ? - she obviously doesn't know the difference between migrants and refugees and asylum seekers or recognized refugees and asylees and those of the latter who need transfer to third country of asylum for being endengered also in Kenya.
"beating up security guards" ? - yes, a skinny refugee or a pregnant asylum seeking mother are beating up the brutes of the G4S guards or heavily armed police - FAKE NEWS !!!
... and of course the scaremongering must not be left out of such an "article", placing the refugees close to terrorists.
Apart from the section the author just copied from the UNHCR media release, everything is wrong in that article.