"The safety and security of all refugees is of utmost priority to us. "

“The safety and security of all refugees is of utmost priority to us. “

Following on from the allegations from The Peter Tatchell Foundation that LGBT+ asylum seekers are being neglected and victimised in Kenya’s refugee camps, the UNHCR responds.

Yesterday we reported that according to Peter Tatchell, the UN High Commission For Refugees boss Filippo Grandi had failed to respond to concerns raised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation (PTF) over the alleged failure to protect LGBT+ people in Kenya, who have fled homophobic persecution from neighbouring countries like Uganda.

The UNHCR has responded by telling THEGAYUK, that “The safety and security of all refugees is of utmost priority to us” and that ‘all LGBTI refugees registered and known to UNHCR in Kakuma are promptly relocated to safer places”.

Speaking THEGAYUK Peter Tatchell said, “Since 2017, I have received persistent reports of neglect, indifference and abuse by UNHCR staff and those they employ, including the failure of the UNHCR to protect LGBT+ refugees from abuse and violence by other refugees and the Kenyan police,

“The UNHCR in Kenya has a duty of care towards all refugees, including LGBT+ ones. For at least two years, it has failed that duty of care – and sadly it continues to fail now”.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation has proposed a five-point plan to the UNHCR to end the threats, violence and exclusion, including removing UNHCR staff and contractors who have behaved in a homophobic way.

“All LGBTI refugees registered and known to UNHCR in Kakuma are promptly relocated to safer places”

Speaking to THEGAYUK, a spokesperson for the UNHCR said, “The safety and security of all refugees is of utmost priority to us.

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“UNHCR is responding to Mr. Tatchell’s letter to address his stated concerns. Our Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, Volker Turk, recently wrote to LGBTI activists engaged in this issue and reaffirmed our steadfast commitment to finding a solution to this situation.

“All LGBTI refugees registered and known to UNHCR in Kakuma are promptly relocated to safer places, where we provide them with shelter, food, water, medical care, legal and psychological counselling and other assistance. We ensure they receive official documentation that legalizes their residence in urban areas, an important measure in light of Kenya’s encampment policy. Assessments are conducted on immediate needs and to identify the best long-term solution.

“UNHCR is actively advocating with resettlement countries to increase the number of places available for LGBTI refugees. However, the number of resettlement places needed worldwide far outstrips the number of places available. For 2019, just 70,000 places are available for more than 1.4 million refugees UNHCR has identified as in need of resettlement.  Our Nairobi office has been working to secure resettlement for as many LGBTI refugees in Kenya as possible.  In the last part of 2018, we submitted more than 100 LGBTI cases for resettlement from Nairobi and have submitted approximately 150 further cases for consideration so far this year.

“UNHCR has a zero-tolerance policy towards any acts of misconduct by our staff or partners”

“UNHCR has a zero-tolerance policy towards any acts of misconduct by our staff or partners, including homophobic abuse. Any allegation we receive is passed on to our Independent Inspector General for investigation. All UNHCR staff and partners are required to sign our Code of Conduct, under which any acts of homophobic abuse leads to disciplinary measures, including dismissal.