Ugandan refugee commits suicide along Waiyaki way

An undated photo of Aneste Mweru who commited suicide outside the UNHCR headquarters over what lobby groups have claimed is harrasement by G4S officers outside the UNHCR offices PHOTO COURTESY

A somber mood engulfed the Ugandan refugee community in Nairobi after one of their own committed suicide moments after engaging in an altercation with G4S officers outside the UNHCR headquarters in Nairobi, his friends have claimed.

According to eyewitnesses, the deceased who has been identified as 28-year-old Aneste Mweru climbed a tree across the UNHCR offices and committed suicide at 10.00 am.

According to a statement released by Refugee Flag Kenya, a Kenya a lobby group that advocates for the rights of LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya, the deceased showed up at the offices requesting for assistance but was ordered to come back on Tuesday as it was not a working day.

“Aneste was roughed up and badly assaulted. In so much pain, he crawled to the nearest tree, climbed it and hanged himself so that he could free himself from the extreme pain he had suffered.” The lobby group said in a statement.

His partner who has been identified as Nathan Shimwe, another refugee of Congolese descent told reporters that Aneste had sunk into depression after losing his job due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

This comes just two months after the UNHCR withdrew monthly stipends for refugees living in urban areas who were deemed ‘not vulnerable’.

According to Moses Mbazira, the executive director of the Refugee Flag Kenya, this coupled up with the effects of COVID-19 has subjected some of the refugees to untold suffering.

“Most of them are living very miserable lives, its very expensive to survive in Nairobi without money. They have to pay rent, buy food and clothing yet they do not have money in a country with a curfew. Many of them have sunk into depression. Aneste sustained serious head injuries during the altercation” Mbazira told Baraka FM.

Aneste was part of a group of refugees who were relocated to Nairobi from the Kakuma refugee camp over attacks by fellow refugees early last year.

On Monday, the UNHCR released a statement saying that the Agency was closely following police investigations into the incident.

 “UNHCR Kenya is aware of today’s incident in which a refugee tragically lost his life. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family. The Office is closely following the ongoing police investigation. UNHCR Kenya will provide further information as available.” The UNHCR said in a statement.

However, this is not the first time refugees have clashed with the agency’s security team.

Last year, seven refugees were injured during a protest outside the agency over delays in the resettlement of refugees.

Police officers told journalists that some of the refugees had turned rowdy pelting officers who had been called to neutralize the ensuing chaos with rocks.

This comes amidst a push by a section of Ugandan legislators to pass the ‘Kill the gays bill’.

The bill which was introduced last year seeks life imprisonment for anyone found engaging in homosexual activity and a seven-year jail term for anyone found guilty of sympathizing with members of the LGBT community.

Kenya which is the only country that accepts asylum seekers from sexual and gender minorities has been touted by the international community as a safer haven for LGBT refugees in East Africa.

However, gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in Jail as per section 162 of the Penal code.