Hunger Triggers Suicide Outside UN Offices in Nairobi

  • Kenyans walking in Nairobi on Monday, March 23, 2020
    Kenyans walking in Nairobi on Monday, March 23, 2020
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • A man confirmed to be a Ugandan refugee hang himself outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday, April 12.

    Identified as Aneste Mweru, the man was spotted by motorists hanging by a white scarf from a tree between the two lanes on Waiyaki Way at around 10.00 a.m on Monday Morning.

    A report by Citizen Digital on Monday, April 13. provided that the 28-year old man had been driven to suicide after his pleas for food were met with hostility and brutality.

    Police and members of the public outside UNHCR offices in Westlands where a Ugandan refugee committed suicide on April 13, 2020.
    Police and members of the public outside UNHCR offices in Westlands where a Ugandan refugee committed suicide on April 13, 2020.
    The Star

    Allegations hold that Mweru had been beaten by guards attached to the UNHCR offices after asking them for food to arrest his hunger.

     “He left us where we were sleeping and proceeded to ask for food but the officers started beating him with sticks,” stated Jerome Sumbu, a fellow refugee from Congo.

    It was allegedly this act that triggered Mweru's suicidal intentions.

    Mweru's death ignited a protest among agitated refugee youth targetted at the security officers attached to the UNHCR offices blaming them for the death.

    The refugees, who rely on handouts from well-wishers, expressed that they had been struggling to find food since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “Since the outbreak of coronavirus, nobody is willing to help us because we understand even Kenyans themselves have little for themselves. Instead of UNHCR officials helping us at this time when everybody is in need of food, they chose to beat our friend,” stated one Somali refugee.

    Some of the refugees who slept under the footbridge along Waiyaki Way had a run-in with police officers looking to disperse them on the morning that Mweru died.

    Kilimani Police Officers came to collect Mweru's body from the tree two hours after he died and delivered it to City Mortuary.

    Kenyans.co.ke reached out to UNHCR officials for comment on the matter but they provided that they were not at liberty to discuss it.

    An officer from Westlands Police Station confirmed the incident and provided that investigations were ongoing to ascertain the circumstances behind the death.

    A police vehicle at a scene of a crime
    A police vehicle at a scene of a crime
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    "We are aware of the incident. We are currently investigating and will revert with more details," stated the officer.

    The World Health Organisation noted the need to account for refugees and migrants while responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In a statement issued on March 30 by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Organisation noted there were specific challenges and vulnerabilities this group was exposed to that had to be taken into consideration.