There have been numerous reports on police brutality inside refugee camps in Kenya, yet the Kenyan government seems to be doing little about it? Now this has resulted in rising discontentment and radicalization within the huge refugee community. The biggest beneficiary of this seems to be the Al-Shabaab; Kenya’s greatest nemesis?
Kenya is among countries that signed the United Nations refugee convention treaty that was adopted by the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons, held in Geneva from 2 to 25 July 1951.
In the treaty, the signatories are obliged to protect and offer assistance to any refugee, who according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
Kenya has the highest number of refugee camps in the world, with the biggest, Dadaab camp, hosting around 250,000 Somali civilians.
I visited the second largest refugee camp, Kakuma, in Turkana County, in the north-western region of Kenya. The 24-year-old camp hosts about 180,000 refugees who’ve fled their countries because of war. I had the opportunity to interact with some of these wonderful people, and their revelations astounded me.
I spoke to one young man from Sudan who has lived at the refugee camp for more than 10 years. He revealed that the refugee community has lived together in harmony regardless of the fact that they are from different countries and backgrounds. “Everyone in Kakuma is like a brother to me…everyone except Kenya police” he said.
To any normal Kenyan, this may appear like nothing unusual; our law enforcers have never been known to be friendly or courteous at any time. However after meeting a group of these refugees with gruesome stories of their encounter with Kenya Police, I realized that at Kakuma, the matter is a different bowl of rice altogether. “I think the police are supposed to protect us, but they are the ones harassing us, where are we supposed to find peace?” one of them told me.
We are not here because we like it. This is not a holiday camp
On the 14th of February this year, a speeding police car driving through the camp knocked down a young man and left him critically injured and was taken to hospital. The police officer involved in the incident apparently wanted to eliminate the boy altogether and, it is alleged, the officer went to the hospital where the boy was taken and paid the doctors to “finish him”. Dan O is lucky to be alive today, even though his spine was injured and he can no longer walk like he used to.
Below is Mr. Kakuma who is Dan O’s friend explaining exactly what took place on that fateful day; 14th of February.
In part 2 of this story I speak to some of the victims of police brutality at the camp. One of the victims even opts to join the Al-Shabaab militant group.