A Ugandan national who was set ablaze in a homophobic attack at Kakuma Refugee Camp has died.
Chriton ‘Trinidad’ Atuhwera died at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) while receiving treatment. The attack took place on March 15, and Trinidad had been hospitalised for nearly a month.
“We offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” said Amnesty International Executive Director Irungu Houghton in a statement. “Chriton’s death was preventable.”
Trinidad, 22, had fled his native Uganda after he was outed as a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community. He was then a university student, pursuing a course in Business Administration. He was also a poet, volleyballer, and loved listening to Miriam Makeba.
On the night of the incident, a Molotov cocktail was flung into Block 13 of the refugee camp, which houses members of the LGBTQ community. Trinidad and a colleague identified as ‘Jordan’ were hurt in the fire.
After first aid at Clinic Six within the camp, they were transferred to Lodwar Hospital by road, 123 kilometres away. “They then waited a further two days before our demands to have them airlifted to a suitable hospital in Nairobi were heard,” says the Black LGBTQ Migrant Project (BLMP).
The duo was airlifted to KNH. “After his admission, it was established that he (Trinidad) was suffering from previous health issues for which he was also receiving treatment,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya. “Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated and, despite the medical team’s best efforts, he passed away.”
While the BLMP accuses the UNHCR of neglect, the refugee agency says the homophobic attack was purely a criminal matter. “We urge the Kenyan authorities to accelerate their investigation into the alleged attack and hold those responsible to account,” says Abdalla.
Amnesty International says there should be an independent review of the current and proposed UNHCR and Refugee Affair Secretariat protection and safety measures accorded to all refugees especially sexual minorities. This will stem future homophobic attacks and rampant discrimination.
“Until the killers of Chriton ‘Trinidad’ Atuhwera have been placed in a court of law and camp security measures improve, both the government of Kenya and UNHCR must continue to be held accountable for the safety lapse that has claimed his life.”
At the same time, Houghton saluted “Kenya’s commitment to be a sanctuary country for all regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Trinidad’s body will reportedly be repatriated back to Uganda for burial.