In the heart of Kakuma – a queer person’s account from a refugee camp

/for polish click here/

In the heart of Kakuma Refugee Camp, a place meant to offer solace to those fleeing persecution, the queer community faces a harrowing existence. Here, life is defined by the relentless challenges that refuse to release their grip.

When illness strikes, hope is but a distant memory. Queer individuals find themselves denied access to essential medication, their pleas for help falling on deaf ears as hospital staff cast judgment upon them. Discrimination shadows every step they take.

A meager offering of $10 for the Kalobeyei settlement, along with a mere kilogram of split peas, a single liter of cooking oil, and a paltry kilogram of maize for the entire month awaits those in Kakuma. These provisions are a stark reminder of their status – undocumented and overlooked, trapped in a world where they cannot legally work.

The UNHCR, an organization meant to provide refuge and support, seems to have forgotten its commitment to this marginalized community. Documents are granted to others, while the queer community remains excluded, a victim of institutionalized homophobia.

Yet, the hardships do not end with hunger and lack of documentation. The Kakuma camp bears witness to unspeakable atrocities – lesbians subjected to rape, trans women forcibly undressed in public, and relentless attacks within their flimsy tented homes. Their very beings are violated, and their possessions stolen.

The journey to the market or water points becomes a treacherous ordeal, a path fraught with danger and hatred. Some find themselves coerced into marriages they never desired, forced into parenthood, and yet denied the right to educate their children.

Tents, meant to offer shelter, provide little safety or respite. They are more akin to fragile cocoons in which these individuals exist, vulnerable and exposed to hostility from both the host and refugee communities. They are shunned as „devils” by those who should offer empathy.

This is a place where starvation is a constant companion, where clean water is a luxury, where the right to live and love freely is a distant dream. The world must heed this plea for help, for it is never too late to shine a light on the darkest corners of despair and injustice, and strive for change.

In the unforgiving shadows of the camp, my existence became a torment shared by my fellow queers. Our days were marked by relentless suffering and despair. We were scattered across this desolate place, vulnerable to constant attacks. The agonizing reality for lesbians was the unspeakable horror of rape, while trans individuals were forcibly stripped bare in public, subjected to the cruel scrutiny of others. Our meager homes were reduced to ashes, leaving us with nothing but the bitter taste of loss.

Survival meant having money to buy even a drop of water, a lifeline that often eluded us. Medication, especially vital for us trans individuals, was a distant dream, denied by those who were supposed to protect us. Some of our fellow queers gave birth as a result of the unspeakable assaults they endured, and now, their innocent children faced the cruel grip of malnutrition, their cries echoing through our nightmares.

What’s most heart-wrenching is that, despite our suffering occurring right under the watchful eyes of the UNHCR, they remained silent, their inaction a painful testament to our isolation and abandonment. We are desperate for help, for a glimmer of hope in this bleak, endless night of suffering.

You can find a fundraiser for help for queer people in kenia here