Refugee Resettlement Watch

Lutheran NGO party shut down in Kenyan refugee camp

Posted by Ann Corcoran on January 7, 2010

This incident happened in October of last year, but I’m just seeing it this morning for the first time.  Apparently, according to KANERE,* Kenyan police interrupted a party of humanitarian aid workers that frankly sounds pretty wild.   Here is the story about the incident at the Lutheran World Federation NGO compound at Kakuma Refugee Camp.

An unusual incident happened on Saturday night, the 10th of October, at the LWF compound when three policemen invaded a farewell party. The party was organized for German Technological Cooperation (GTZ) agency staff who were leaving the camp.

During the early hours of the evening, the group entertainment team engaged the audience with music and everyone was on their feet dancing to the beat of the music.

“It was very colorful and bright, with every beat matching the dancers; it was lively and fantastic,” said one partygoer of the experience.

At about 12:00 midnight, everyone in the hall was surprised when the loud music came to a dead stop. Unnoticed by revelers, several Kenyan police officers had arrived on the scene and ordered the DJ to stop playing the music.

“You must stop playing the music! This is heard beyond 30 yards and it’s against rules and regulation by the law,” one police officer reportedly said.

Without speaking to anyone, the police officer went directly to the main speaker, unplugged the cable, and halted the music. Then the other police officers claimed that the DJ was under arrest. The police officers went on to say that all the equipment used for the party was to be taken to the police station. However, the equipment was not owned by GTZ but instead belonged to Film Aid International, which had offered to assist the party with a music system.

Partiers got tense:

The DJ resisted and wanted to know the reasons for his arrest. He demanded that the police show him a warrant of arrest, which was not produced. The policemen claimed that they were not informed about the party ahead of time, and that the music was played at such a loud volume that it was disturbing the compound residents and people living around the area.

During the entire confrontation, GTZ staffs hosting the party remained seated, reportedly doing nothing to help the situation. Film Aid staff, on the other hand, engaged themselves in trying to stop the police. This caused them to argue with GTZ staff hosting the party.

The police caused a stir and created tension among the partygoers….

So tense they were drunk on the floor.  UNHCR security called.

The scene degenerated until LWF Compound Management was finally forced to call the UNHCR Head of Security Operations, Mr. Munuve, at 2:00 am. UNHCR security arrived approximately one and a half hours after the police had first invaded the party.

Mr. Munuve reached a dialogue by calling the LWF Compound Management, Film Aid Manager, and one of the police officers. They negotiated for some time until an agreement was reached at that odd hour of the night.

The police officers left the party without taking the DJ or the musical equipment. Partygoers clapped loudly in approval, while others were seen drunk on the floor and spent the night recuperating.

Those Lutherans sure do know how to have a good time!   By the way, did it occur to any of the partiers that devout Muslims in the camp that houses Somalis or even Muslims in the Kenyan police might have objected to loud western music and alcoholic beverages, both forbidden in Islam.

* Kakuma News Reflector says they are about “fair public debate on refugee affairs” and that is our goal too at RRW!

In exercising a refugee free press, we speak in respect of human rights and the rule of law in order to create a more open society in refugee camps and to develop a platform for fair public debate on refugee affairs.

No time now, but later I’ll check and see if any of your tax dollars go to this NGO.

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