Showing posts with label Gay Refugees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Refugees. Show all posts

January 13, 2020

Kenya Locals Continue to Attack Gay Refugees

By Tim Fitzsimons
For years, Ugandan refugee Mbazira Moses has been typing out emails to dozens of international humanitarian organizations and United Nations officials with a message: LGBTQ refugees at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya need your help.
The Kakuma camp and nearby Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, both operated by the U.N. Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, are together home to nearly 200,000 refugees from dozens of countries. Many, if not most, have fled overland from Kenya’s conflict-stricken neighbors: Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia.
Image: A protected section of Kakuma refugee camp in northwest
A protected section of the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, which is home to LGBT refugees in Turkana County on Oct. 14, 2018.Sally Hayden / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images file
But according to Moses and experts on refugees and migration, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer refugees in Kakuma — many of whom fled homophobic and transphobic violence in nearby Uganda — continue to face threats and violence from locals and other refugees for the simple reason that they are LGBTQ. While the situation for sexual and gender minorities may generally be direr in neighboring countries, Kenya is still among the nearly 70 nations that criminalize homosexuality.
On Tuesday night, Moses sent out another such email: Over 50 queer refugees camped outside the UNHCR reception center at Kakuma for safety reasons were again attacked, this time by Turkana-speaking locals and other Kakuma refugees.
“They were kicked out by the UNHCR and forced into the homophobic community with other refugees," and then local residents from the area, the Turkana, "attacked them some time ago,” Moses wrote in the email sent to human rights officials and journalists.
“They fled to the reception center where they were denied entry," he wrote. "The two groups hate them badly.”  
Moses alleged that the refugees were attacked with “knife stabs, stones, and clubs,” and included images of people with head injuries. Police hesitated, the ambulance was slow, and the refugees fled through holes and over fences, Moses said. The Turkana locals allegedly blamed the gay refugees for a local drought. Seven refugees were injured.
Kakuma camp is “very hard to administer,” said Bruce Knotts, director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations office, who has for decades worked in refugee advocacy and relief — including a visit to Kakuma years ago.
“You have got a handful of UNHCR officials, so bad things can happen, and bad things do happen in refugee camps — not only to LGBT people but women and other people as well, so it’s unfortunately not surprising,” Knotts said.
In June 2018, Moses and Refugee Flag Kakuma, an LGBTQ rights group he leads at the camp, hosted its first gay pride event. The march attracted hundreds of Kakuma onlookers, but soon after it finished, a series of murderous threats were posted around the camp: Leave or be killed “one by one.”
Image: Participants hold rainbow flags during an LGBTQ pride event at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya
Participants hold rainbow flags during an LGBTQ pride event at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya on June 16, 2018.Refugee Flag Kakuma
The dire situation at the camp worsened in December 2018, when an attack on LGBTQ refugees at Kakuma injured 20 and was so brutal that UNHCR officials relocated hundreds of refugees to a gated school compound 450 miles south in Nairobi, where some remain today. And yet, according to Moses, new lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer refugees continue to arrive for registration at UNHCR offices in Kakuma and Nairobi.
In a WhatsApp message sent to NBC News on Friday, Moses said he and other members of Refugee Flag Kakuma question “the logic of returning and housing LGBT refugees in a place where others had been withdrawn because of insecurity.”
“Some of the 200 LGBT refugees who were relocated from Kakuma camp last year were arrested and returned to camp,” Moses said. “At the same time, some new ones have been reporting both in Nairobi and Kakuma. Those who report in Nairobi are always sent to the Kakuma refugee camp.” 
The staffers in UNHCR’s offices in Nairobi and Kakuma have been widely accused of soliciting and accepting bribes to speed the processing of refugee status applications, including by interviewees in an NBC News investigation last year about corruption at Kakuma and other Kenyan camps. The UNHCR strongly denied the allegations in that article.
LGBTQ refugees also routinely accuse the camp’s administrators of turning a blind eye — due to homophobia and transphobia — to their plight and to the continued violence they face.
UNHCR did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment on reports of repeated violence against LGBTQ refugees at the Kakuma camp. However, in an interview with NBC News after the attack on the camp’s June 2018 pride event, Yvonne Ndege, a UNHCR Kenya spokesperson, said, “The community can sometimes feel isolated.”
"UNHCR and the government of Kenya with other relevant stakeholders are striving to promote the rights of all asylum-seekers and refugees and are ensuring partners are trained on how to work with LGBTI in a displacement context,” Ndege said. “Their rights as human beings shall be considered as such."
 While the process of getting a refugee application approved by UNHCR can take years in Kenya and other countries, including the United States, the average stay for a resident of Kakuma camp is 17 years, according to the UNHCR.
More than 25 million people worldwide are currently refugees, according to Amnesty International, and a third are living in the world’s lowest-income countries. The Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya was recently the world’s largest refugee camp — outstripped in late 2019 by Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Knotts said UNHCR is “overwhelmed by Syrian refugees, by Rohingya refugees; there are massive refugee situations around the world, and when you are talking about LGBTQ refugees, you’re talking about a small number and nobody wants to talk about that.”
Even so, “the UNHCR has an obligation to do better than this,” Knotts said.

June 13, 2018

A French Couple Welcomes A Gay Refugee Escaping From Mali

Armand and Christophe decided to welcome a refugee after seeing the shocking image of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi who drowned off Turkey.

                                                    Image result for Alan Kurdi who drowned off Turkey

PARIS, France – Louis fled his native Mali without a backward glance to escape persecution for his sexuality and his activities in the LGBT community. In France, he found the moral support and understanding he needed with Armand and Christophe.

“I lost my mother when I was two and my father when I was 11. When I was 16, my grandmother died, so I was living alone in Bamako,” says the elegant youth, smartly turned out in a blue suit.
“Since 2007 I had been working as a team leader for an anti-aids NGO. I gave talks on awareness-raising and prevention, focusing on gays and lesbians.”

One evening, Louis received a whispered call from a neighbor warning him not to go home. According to him, there were some men waiting for Louis who had sworn to “kill the dirty faggot”. He never went home again, leaving without taking anything or telling his friends and family. 

“I had problems because of my work, but also because I am a bit effeminate. Since I was little people knew I was gay when they looked at me, although they had no evidence at the time. Since then, seeing the people I hang out with, some discreet, some less so, they understood what was going on and I started having a lot of trouble in the neighbourhood.”

After a long and hazardous journey, Louis found refuge in Paris with Armand and Christophe. The pair, who travel a lot, say they are open-minded and acutely aware of the rights and freedoms they enjoy in France compared to other parts of the world.

In 2015, they had the idea of taking in a refugee. “You know, there are some things that just touch a nerve,” says Armand. “For us, it was a tragic image that spread around the world, the photo of little Alan Kurdi found drowned in Turkey.

The world’s media published the photograph of the body of the Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach after he drowned when his family was desperately trying to reach safety in Europe.
“We thought we had to do something in the face of such a human tragedy.” 
“We thought we had to do something in the face of such a human tragedy.”
He and Christophe contacted the organization Réfugiés Bienvenue. They had no spare room in their small Paris apartment but suggested installing a foldaway bed in their living room.
“We have a nice life here and I reckon we are in a position, and have the means, to reach out to someone who was forced to flee his homeland because of war or persecution.”

Christophe adds: “Our awareness was raised by that humanitarian tragedy and, especially, by the crackdown on LGBT people. So, when people were forced to flee for such reasons, or were threatened because of their lifestyle, that was something that affected us greatly. At the same time, we thought it would be easier to live with someone who shared the same lifestyle as us.”
The young Malian appeared to be a perfect fit for a successful flat share. The first meeting took place in a restaurant. Everyone said yes, and the deal was done.

A week later, Louis rang the bell of the flat in the city’s eighth district.
“When I arrived on the first day, Armand and Christophe had put up decorations and a sign saying ‘Welcome Louis’. That was a surprise. I was very happy. Everything has gone well up to now. They have helped me a lot.”

By Clementine Baron

This story is part of the French chapter of No Stranger Place, developed and photographed by Aubrey Wade in partnership with UNHCR, profiling refugees and their hosts across Europe. The exhibition will go on display at Ground Control in Paris, on 20 June 2018.

March 15, 2017

Gay Iranian Makes it to The US 1 Day Before Trump’s Order but…

Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle
Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey.

Amir knows he should be happier. He is among the lucky ones, a gay Iranian man who gained refugee status and flew to San Francisco just a day before President Trump was inaugurated and a little over a week before he signed the first of two executive orders temporarily barring refugees from entering the country.

Instead, Amir sits alone in his room in the city and wonders: Why him?

He thinks about a fortuitous last-minute flight change that had him depart for San Francisco International Airport on Jan. 19 rather than Jan. 30 — a few days after Trump signed his initial executive order. More so, he worries about his friends left behind, like Ashkan, who was also set to come to the U.S. as a refugee but now may lose that opportunity altogether.

Amir spends his days on the phone with Ashkan and his other friends in Turkey, where as gay refugees who fled Iran together they formed a community in a small town where residents looked down on them. Now, his friends can neither go back to Iran nor come to the U.S. — and they have told Amir they have contemplated suicide.

“Is this the America they talked about, the one that valued freedom and human rights?” asked Amir, 31, who requested that his last name be withheld because he fears repercussions.

Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey. Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle Photo: Christie Hemm Klok, Special To The Chronicle Wade Meyer (left), LGBT refugee services coordinator at the Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay, and Amir, a gay refugee from Iran who made it to the U.S. in the recent weeks while his close friends remain stuck in Turkey.

Amir and his friends are among those whose lives were thrown into disarray first by Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which froze all refugee admissions for four months. The move was struck down by federal courts, but on Monday Trump signed a follow-up order freezing admissions, while also temporarily halting the entry of all immigrants from Iran and five other majority-Muslim countries.

The second order, which is being challenged in the courts, is to take effect Thursday.

In the weeks since the first ban was struck down, more than 4,000 refugees have arrived. But many others in the pipeline were not able to make it.

The limbo for these people will continue. Roughly 11,000 refugees who have been vetted by government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security are standing by, as flights into the U.S. are not being booked for after Thursday, said Karen Ferguson, head of the International Rescue Committee’s Northern California office.

Ferguson and other advocates fear that the freeze will be disastrous for many. During the intense vetting process — which takes an average of 18 to 24 months — refugees run through numerous security and medical checks. But these clearances have expiration dates that Ferguson worries will lapse during the four-month suspension, effectively sending the applicants back to the start of the process.

“It’s going to leave people in harm’s way,” Ferguson said. “There will be tragedies. Some people will not make it through even when they would have.”

The Trump administration has said the freeze is a necessary step in boosting efforts to identify would-be terrorists and keep them out of the country.


Hawaii files the first legal challenge to Trump’s new travel WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions (C), Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (R) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) take part in a news conference about issues related to a reconstituted travel ban at the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection headquarters, on March 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that excludes Iraq from the blacklisted countries but continues to block entry to the U.S. for citizens of Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya and Yemen. Kelly, Tillerson and Sessions left the news conference without taking questions.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** Trump’s new travel ban seeks to avoid 1st edict’s flaws CORRECTED VERSION - WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R), Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (L) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) take part in a news conference about issues related to a reconstituted travel ban at the U.S. Customs and Borders Protection headquarters, on March 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that excludes Iraq from the blacklisted countries but continues to block entry to the U.S. for citizens of Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya and Yemen. Kelly, Tillerson and Sessions left the news conference without taking questions.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) 

Trump’s new executive order on immigration a lot like the first President Donald Trump on Monday signs a new version of his controversial travel ban, aiming to withstand court challenges while still barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shutting down the U.S. refugee program. New travel order may still have legal obstacles, analysts say

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that more than 300 people in the U.S. who had been admitted as refugees were being investigated for potential terrorism-related activities. But Sessions did not provide details on the cases, or what precisely the number represented.

“We also know that people seeking to support or commit terrorist attacks here will try to enter through our refugee program,” Sessions said. “Like every nation, the United States has the right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do us harm.”

But the focus on the country’s refugee program has ignited opposition from advocates and politicians who call it a critical humanitarian effort that has not proved to be dangerous.

Between 1980 and 2015, no U.S. resident who had arrived as a refugee was involved in a fatal terrorist attack, according to research by the libertarian Cato Institute. In 2016, a man who came to the country as a refugee and who officials believe may have been inspired by the Islamic State group injured 11 people by running them over at Ohio State University.

The White House says the stakes are high. So do advocates for refugees.

Around the Bay Area and the country, as arrivals of refugees have been put on hold, lives have been changed and families have been separated, as advocates try to figure out what’s next. While Amir got in, others were not as fortunate — including a Syrian refugee who lives in Jordan and was preparing, along with his wife, son and daughter, to join his sister in the East Bay.

Ahmed, whose family fled the fighting in Syria in 2013, had spent years seeking admission to the U.S. and was waiting for his airline tickets the day Trump signed the first ban. He had made all of his preparations for travel — ending his contract at work, selling his furniture and taking his children out of school.

Trump’s orders were more crushing than leaving his war-torn home country, because he dreamed of restarting his family members’ lives and giving his children opportunity, said Ahmed, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym.

Since then, his family’s refugee case has been suspended as organizations try to help. He said he was ready to contribute to the U.S., sending a reporter pictures of the tools he once produced at the factory he owned in Syria.

“Mr. President,” Ahmed said. “We are not terrorists. We want to live in peace.”

The changing plight of refugees goes beyond the 120-day freeze.

More than 37,000 refugees have been resettled in the U.S. this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Because the Trump administration lowered the maximum number of refugees the country will take in during this period, from 110,000 to 50,000, the remaining slots are limited.

“The administration has the right to cap and put limits on the number of refugees it’s going to accept — there’s no legal obligation to take a particular number,” said Beth Van Schaack, a professor at Stanford Law School who once investigated war crimes in Syria for the State Department. “The issue is one of morality at some level.”

Polling shows the country is divided over the admission of refugees. According to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, 52 percent of respondents said it was appropriate to limit entry of refugees because of security risks.

It’s not the first time the country has been split over refugees. The Pew Research Center found that Americans have, in the past, generally not wanted to welcome them, regardless of their country of origin. In 1980, a poll found that 71 percent of Americans did not approve of Cuban refugees.

“We want the American administration to rethink this decision,” said Ahmed, “because we are a good people that loves peace, and what was imposed upon us was outside of our will.”

 By Hamed Aleaziz who is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer

May 15, 2016

Germany Wants to return Gay Refugees to Gay Un friendly Countries

Germany may soon pass a law that would consider three North African countries, known for their anti-LGBTI laws, as safe, meaning asylum seekers will have applications rejected unless they are able to produce evidence proving their persecution.
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Germany’s lower house of parliament has approved the draft law stating that the North African countries, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco are considered to be safe, a concept defined by a Federal Constitutional Court ruling that reads, “For a state to be declared a safe country of origin, there has to be nationwide safety from political persecution for all citizens and demographic groups”, reports to Gay Star News.

Homosexuality is illegal in all three countries and the bill has been criticised by human rights groups, the opposition party the Greens and hard-left party Die Linke.

Baerbel Kofler, the government commissioner for human rights, voted against the bill and told Reuters that there were “proven and documented human rights violations” in all three of the countries.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière defended the bill saying that “being able to say ‘no’ is also a part of helping” and that migrants from these countries were coming not because they faced persecution but “because benefits are better [in Germany] than they might be in their home country.”

The bill still needs to pass in the parliament’s upper house.

By Daily News 

Also in Germany:

Germany is preparing to overturn the convictions of gay men who were convicted of having homosexual sex before 1994 when same-sex intimacy was decriminalised.

The German justice minister says the historical convictions are "wrong... they are deeply hurtful to human dignity.”

“Homosexual men who were convicted should no longer have to live with the stain of a criminal record," he added.
Homosexuality was partially decriminalised in East Germany in 1968 and in West Germany in 1969, but there were a further 3,500 convictions before the law was finally repealed in 1994.

A campaign to have historical convictions in New Zealand wiped from the records has yet to bear fruit, with Minister of Justice Amy Adams saying as recently as January this year that “its impossible to tell whether they involved consensual acts or not after the event, because of the way the law was written.”

January 23, 2016

Berlin’s LGBT Group Gets Help for Abused Gay Refugees


We all know that through all those thousands of Syrians asylum seekers there most be a good percentage of LGBT. As a matter of fact when gays have to disclose who they are they also need to disclose their sexual orientation so they could would be considered for qualification under the asylum program. 
The LGBT in Germany has taken steps to help those refugees. I don’t have to tell you what happens when all those so called religious people in line to be interviewed and they hear someone is gay the news spreads among homophobes like wild fire. 

For those that look weaker or smaller there is rape and possible pushed to to be pimped and for the others there is vocal abuse and gang beatings. The gay community in Germany is a strong smart bunch of people that not only complaint but they also get their hands dirty in demonstrations and pushing the government to be fair in the way they are treated. These community remembers the days in which they were tagged with a pink triangle and hung or sent to the gas camps to be gassed and burnt. They take no prisoners when they see their rights violated.

The Jerusalem Post reported what steps this community is taken to help some of these refugee seekers.
They have gotten the ok to open a center that accommodates 125 in Berlin.

There are an estimated 3,500 LGBT asylum seekers in Berlin, many experiencing abuse in shelters where they are staying with other people seeking asylum, according to Schwulenberatung, a Berlin-based gay rights organization which will run the center.

"We have heard a lot of stories about discrimination and crimes against LGBT people in the last two years," Stephan Jakel, Schwulenberatung manager in charge of refugee affairs, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

"They were frightened and scared after being beaten or spat on, and one survived a murder attempt. We heard a lot of horrible stories," he said by phone from Berlin.

Germany has borne the brunt of Europe's biggest refugee influx since World War Two with over one million people arriving in the country in 2015, most of them fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Between August and December 2015, there were 95 cases of violence against LGBT people, mainly in accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers, according to the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD).

They involved physical violence, sexual assaults, insults, threats and coercion.

Jakel said there was a shortage of cheap or free apartments in Berlin and many asylum seekers were forced to remain in centers for a long time, often facing abuse.

"Refugees have been coming to our center over the last few years asking for help," Jakel said.

LGBT asylum seekers will be offered accommodation in the new center during their asylum-seeking process and will be allowed to stay for as long as they need, he said.

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