Attacks on Somali Christian Refugees in Kenya

Friday, September 29, 2006

(Christian Solidarity WorldWide) -- Somali Christian refugees in Kenya continue to face increasing attacks from Somali groups and struggle to receive adequate assistance to survive, according to reports received by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

One Somali Christian refugee, who shall be referred to as A, left Somalia with his family in fear of his life. Since their arrival in Kenya, A’s family has repeatedly been threatened by supporters of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Three of A’s children have been abducted by his Muslim relatives and allegedly returned to Somalia where they may be enrolled in a ‘rehabilitation’ centre. Two more of his children were abducted, but were rescued when the authorities were pressurised to act.

A is currently recovering from an assault in July that left him comatose, yet last night (27 September) A and his family were attacked again.

More than 3,400 Somalis have sought refuge in Kenya in the last three weeks, bringing the tally to almost 25,000 since the beginning of the year. It appears that as the UIC gains further ground in Somalia, there is a corresponding increase in attacks on Somali Christians in Kenya by UIC supporters. According to local sources, there are “many proxy representatives of the Islamic Shari’ah Courts in Nairobi”.

Local sources indicate that the Kenyan office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) may not have provided enough support to Somali Christians. Since the UNHCR’s central office in Switzerland takes its lead from the Kenya office, the organisation has been slow in taking effective action.

Tina Lambert, Advocacy Director for CSW says: “Having suffered already in Somalia these Christian refugees face a double tragedy when they encounter further hardship and persecution in Kenya. Their situation is deeply concerning and it is vital that the international community mobilise behind the UNHCR to ensure urgent protection for these Somali refugees and their families”

CSW is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.