VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ASSYLUM SEEKERS
Contextual reality of women refugees
Asylum seekers do flock to urban centres in Kenya when fleeing persecution or conflict in neighbouring countries. New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) News from Africa 2003 and the Human Rights Watch, an international human rights watchdog, have observed that these refugees live a precarious existence, and frequently subjected to the abuse of their most basic rights.
The past few decades has seen Kenya become home to refugees who have fled from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan for years now. Many of these refugees live in Kenya’s urban areas, and it is estimated that over 60 000 refugees are found in Nairobi alone. It is true that some are in other Kenyan towns close to the border or where NGOs and organizations helping refugees are easily accessible.
Reports from a New York based Human rights organization shows that Refugees often face armed attacks or are subject to inter-ethnic tensions or discrimination, not to mention inadequate humanitarian assistance, medical care and educational opportunities in host countries.among the asylum seekers are women, girls and children. I am particularly going to share on the contextual reality of women refugees.
It is very heartbreaking for a woman to leave her home because of insecurity only to land in another hostile environment. There are untold stories of all forms of violence in refugee camps or host communities. In all these happenings, women refugees around the globe, like Kenyan women refugees experiences are horrendous. Being vulnerable, the women face threats from men from their communities at home living within the camps where they are temporarily sheltered, the men working with the organizations that enroll, and give food and non-food material support to refugees, and the security officers who are to protect these women. More often than not, women have been threatened to be beaten up, killed, raped, denied access to basic needs and have their valid documents taken from them, but avenues to share these are all closed up. And out of fear, the women are forced to part with money, give in to sexual harassment, or forced to move away from camps to more insecure places in urban areas. The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) …….report sadly says “In addition, refugees who have experienced violence and insecurity are unable to access UNHCR to report on their abuse, and when they do, UNHCR often does not adequately track complaints or intervene with local police. Even local human rights groups experience problems reaching UNHCR when they try to draw the agency's attention to these problems”, concludes the report. I find it necessary to speak on behalf of the women asylum seekers on the need to inform all world leaders to make relevant policies to ensure peace, so that the world can continually remain a better and safer place for women, and conducive for those running away from conflict areas, or war torn countries.
Proposals to world leaders for short and long term interventions
o Identify refugees who are at risk when they first register at the office, in direct contravention of its own policies on refugee women and children.
o Promote safe living arrangements for refugee children and their families, and where necessary, organize special accommodation for individuals at particular risk, such as unaccompanied young women, families headed by women, or abused children.
o offer protection, in situations where refugees lack host nation’s national identity cards hence face harassment and extortion of money
o offer medical care and trauma care and counseling to women and girls facing violence in camps and host communities
o address hostility among refugees to protect the vulnerable categories of people among them women, girl children and youth
o Integrate gender in humanitarian interventions so that workers on the ground are sensitized on violation of women and girl rights in refugee camps in the light of the rights of Refugees.
o Address all the violations following the laws of the land and international laws that protect the rights of refugees.
o Ensure accessibility of organizations that are mandated to take care of the rights and grievances of refugees in camps or a given state. These will expedite interventions aimed at addressing injustices in camps.
o Ensure reproductive health rights and services to all women and girls who have experienced any form of sexual violence in camps or urban areas in host states
o Ensure there are representatives or people with interests in promoting the humane treatment of women refugees in organizations mandated to take care of the interests of refugees, in host communities and refugee camps. These representatives will make it possible to channel communications of refugee grievances, and ensure access of services and rights
o Facilitation of formation of healthy groups that take care of the vulnerable people in refugee camps
o Sensitize host communities on co-existence and humane treatment of refugees
o Empowerment of all refugees to rebuilt their lives in host communities and back home whenever conflict ceases.
I want to call upon all governments, all women of good will, NGOs and human rights organizations in all war torn areas, conflict areas, host communities and refugee camps that we stand in solidarity with women facing any form of violence and that we influence all involved to be particularly sensitive to the cries of women. I am calling upon the organizations involved in the interventions at the camps to follow to the later the UN declarations in ensuring that refugees basic human rights are not violated.
Let us all, in our own unique ways say
No!!! to any form of violence
Against women and girls seeking asylum!