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'Good Samaritan' houses LGBTQ+ refugees in Kenya

Cyuzuzo Samba

BBC Great Lakes, Nairobi

A group of LGBTQ+ refugees who have been targeted in Kenya say a "good Samaritan" has come to their aid by giving them accommodation in the capital, Nairobi.

They say there are 76 refugees in the group coming from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

They told BBC Great Lakes that they left Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya after a series of homophobic attacks against them by fellow camp residents.

In April, the group rented rooms in Nairobi's Kangemi suburb, where they later faced the same hostility once local residents heard about their sexual orientation.

The landlord then told them to go.

The Refugee Coalition of East Africa, which works with LGBTQ+ refugees, stepped in to help.

It says the group is composed of 14 lesbians, 20 transgender women, one intersex person and the others are gay and bisexual men. There are also 10 children.

View of a room where the refugees are staying
The refugees are living in cramped conditions

Frank (not his real name) told the BBC that the coalition took them to a new house in the south of Nairobi. But the conditions there are not good.

“We have no water here, no food for the past few days and we are in three rooms. It’s too bad,” Burundian refugee Claude (not his real name) told the BBC.

They have not received any help from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, he added.

In a statement sent to the BBC, UNHCR spokesperson Dana Hughes said the agency was concerned about the situation of the group and is working with "community-based organisations" to deal with it.

“We are aware that many LGBTI refugees living in Kenya continue to face challenges, we advise refugees to remain in safe neighbourhoods, and in small groups for their own protection,” she said.

Gay refugees face eviction from Nairobi slum

Ashley Lime

BBC News, Nairobi

A group of LGBTQ refugees pictured in Uganda
Getty Images

A group of 76 LGBT refugees living in a poor neighbourhood of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, has been threatened with eviction, according to an agency for gay migrants.

An activist who visited their home said they were living in four "tiny" rooms and were "all horribly malnourished, living in inhuman conditions in an insecure compound".

Kenya recently rejected an attempt by campaigners to overturn laws criminalising gay sex, which is punishable with 14 years in prison.

A statement from the Refugee Coalition of East Africa (RefCEA), an agency for gay migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, said the people known as the Great Lakes LGBTQI group had said a landlord wanted to evict them from the four small rooms after they pleaded to be given more time.

The group was accused of being "cursed" and "spreading disease", the statement said.

"LGBTQI refugees were heckled, spat upon, and one man was stoned and beaten by the crowd until he was pulled to safety," the statement continued.

Among the group were lesbians, transgender women, intersex people and gay and bisexual men, as well as children.

The agency says it will work with local and international partners to provide housing, security, food and transportation for the refugees.

The Kenyan authorities have not at the time of writing responded to the BBC's request for comment.