Kenya map on border with Somalia where four people have been reportedly killed in Garissa. The Kenyan Defense Forces have been occupied Somalia at the aegis of US imperialism since 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Somalis in Kenya
Abuse in the name of security
May 29th 2013, 18:25 by D.H. | NAIROBI
FATUMA (not her real name) was at home in Eastleigh, a Somali-dominated suburb of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, when the police called on her. She showed them her refugee permits but they took the 23-year-old outside and loaded her onto a waiting truck. Along with four other women they were driven to a disused building where they were separated and raped. When they were taken back to the truck, bleeding and with their dresses torn, nobody spoke.
“We didn’t have to say anything to each other because we all knew what had happened to all of us,” she said. Her ordeal was part of a systematic campaign between last November and January this year of torture, rape, extortion and arbitrary detention of Somalis living in Kenya, under the guise of responding to terror threats. The abuses are documented in a new report released on May 29th by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based monitor.
“Kenyan police unleashed ten weeks of hell on communities close to the heart of Nairobi, torturing, abusing, and stealing from some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Gerry Simpson, one of report's authors. It is the fourth study into the abuse of refugees by Kenyan police in four years. So far no action has been taken against the officers or officials involved. The UNHCR, the UN's refugee body, has been notably silent.
The violence and intimidation is the rough edge of a campaign to drive tens of thousands of Somali refugees out of Kenya's cities and into the crowded and often lawless refugee camps on the border with Somalia and Sudan. Kenya's High Court is due to rule in June on the legality of a government plan to forcibly relocate 55,000 Somali refugees out of the cities and into camps.
Since Kenya invaded its northern neighbour in late 2011 ostensibly to tackle Islamic militants known as the Shabab, a spate of grenade attacks blamed on the group's sympathisers has inflamed attitudes towards Somali refugees. Populist politicians argue that Kenya can no longer afford the burden of the large refugee population. That is disingenuous at best.
The city-sized refugee camps such as Dadaab, which hosts more than 400,000 people, are funded by foreign donors and run by the UNHCR. Somalis living in Nairobi have become some of east Africa's most effective traders.
The costs and benefits of the “refugee burden”, as it is sometimes dubbed in Kenya's media, have not been debated honestly. Few areas of Somalia are secure enough for refugees to return. And it is unclear how beating, raping and stealing from the residents of Eastleigh helps Kenyan national security.