Kenya: Somalis trapped in ‘catch-22’ amid crackdown on refugees

Published on Amnesty International, April 11, 2014;

Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said as thousands of Somalis continued to be rounded up by security forces in Nairobi.

Registration of Somali refugees in Kenya has been largely halted since December 2011, preventing many who should qualify for refugee status from obtaining papers. Without these they could be returned to Somalia, where they may be at risk of human rights abuses.  

“Thousands of unregistered Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are in an impossible situation: they face arrest and deportation because they are not registered, but it is extremely difficult for them to register,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

“The Kenyan government is punishing refugees and asylum-seekers for being in a legal limbo that it has created, while showing no consideration for their human rights.”
Somali refugees told Amnesty International they had faced intimidation, bea
tings and unlawful detention at the hands of security forces conducting house-to-house searches in predominantly Somali neighbourhoods over the past week.

Ahmed, 26, who was taken from his home to the Kasarani football stadium to have his papers checked on 7 April, said: “They came to my house in the middle of the night and demanded my papers. My ID had expired. They said ‘this is not real ID’ so they beat and kicked me and then took me to Kasarani.”

Unregistered asylum-seekers are at particular risk, though people with valid papers have also been arbitrarily detained, threatened and mistreated.

Mohamed, who was arrested on 6 April near Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali area of Nairobi, told Amnesty International: “Four policemen stopped me and asked for my ID. I showed them my refugee card; they said it meant nothing. They demanded 35,000 KSh ($400 US) from me. When I didn’t have it, they told me I was al-Shabab and forced me to go with them.”

He was detained at the Kasarani stadium, where many refugees have been taken for screening, before being moved to a police station overnight. The following day he was released along with 47 others, but he now has no ID.

“When they brought us back to Eastleigh they didn’t give me my refugee mandate back. They told me to come back the next day to Kasarani, but when I went I was told to come back another time,” he said.

Refugees and asylum-seekers without IDs are at high risk of arrest and detention. Though Mohamed is legally in Kenya, he is unable to move around freely for fear of arrest.

“I didn’t sleep last night. Now I don’t have an ID, if they arrest me right now, I have nothing to show,” he said.

Anti-terror operation: … //

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Somalia am Mittelmeer: In Libyen warten Hunderttausende Menschen auf ihre Flucht nach Europa – Der zerfallene Staat ist seit der Intervention des Westens 2011 ein Paradies für Schmugglerbanden. Ein Kommentar von Ulrich Ladurner, 11. April 2014;

Somalia Refugees:

High Commissioner’s Global Initiative on Somali Refugees, on UNHCR,org;

Refugees International: SOMALIA;

Category: Somalian refugees on en.wikipedia;

Somalia on en.wikipedia.

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