Somali journalists face new threats in Kenya

Life for exiled Somalis living in Kenya is never easy, but now it's even harder after the government directed that all Somali urban refugees relocate to the refugee camps. The situation is especially dire for exiled Somali journalists who face unique security challenges.

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  1. A deadly attack on a church near Mombasa killing six people on March 23, 2014 seems to be the event that triggered the government's punitive decision. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
  2.  Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for the Interior, James Oke Lenku issued a press release issued on March 25 saying: “Any refugee found flouting this directive will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” and asked Kenyans to report any cases of refugees outside the crowded camps to the police. 

  3. A major police crackdown has ensued, especially in the capital Nairobi and Mombasa where police are targeting refugees as well as other Kenyan citizens who are not carrying identification cards.
  4. War On Terror: Police Arrest Over 1,000 Suspects
  5. Somali urban refugees are the main targets of this new offensive - at least 1,000 have already been arrested in the bustling Eastleigh region of Nairobi, known for its thriving Somali ethnic community.
  6. The Somali Community and Human Rights Groups have condemned the ruling, which they say use them as scapegoats for failures in Kenya's security structure.
  7. A week after the order, twin grenades were thrown into the densely populated, primarily Somali ethnic residency of Eastleigh on Monday, March 31.
  8. Many Somali refugees residing in Eastleigh fear the police crackdown will resemble past incidents where the police will capitalize on the incident by extorting bribes from the community. 
  9.  According to the East African Bribery Index, the police force is the most likely sector in Kenya to demand a bribe and incidences of police bribery are the worst in the region. 
  10. The situation is especially hard for exiled Somali journalists residing in Nairobi. The Kenyan government is targeting Somali refugees as potential suspected members of the Al-Shabaab insurgency in Somalia. But almost all exiled Somali journalists who now live in Nairobi were forced to flee because of the Al-Shabaab insurgency taking place in their homeland.
  11. Security concerns have been high for quite some time in the Dadaab refugee camp, situated on the Kenya / Somali border where suspected Al-Shabaab insurgents reside within the refugee population. Somali exiled journalists know this and say that for them, relocation to Dadaab is effectively a death sentence.
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