Kenya: The forgotten Anyuak community
15 May 2009

A refugee child in Ruiru, a Nairobi suburb where a large Anyuak community lives. (Angela Hellmuth/JRS)
There is no possibility for us to return because the situation is still insecure and people fear they will be arrested or killed once they return.
Nairobi, 15 may 2009 – I fled from my home in the Gambela region of Ethiopia because people from the highlands who belonged to the ruling government were killing us for reasons which I don’t know. 

Our flight was difficult, we went through the bush to Sudan, always hiding. Then we briefly settled in an area that was controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). From there I proceeded to Kenya and I arrived in Lokichoggio [north-west Kenya] in 2005. 

In Kenya we were received well. I have experienced the Kenyans as peaceful people. The problems and suffering I faced after I arrived were because I was a refugee. 

Due to my medical condition I could not stay in a camp and was granted permission to move to Nairobi. But I was not granted refugee status and although different organisations provide support I had difficulties finding food and medical care. 

With medical problems in Nairobi

I soon came across JRS. I talked to a staff member who visited me regularly and also presented my case to the UN refugee agency who then helped me with medical support and finally I was granted refugee status.

I know that JRS made an effort in order to help me, they tried continuously. Without JRS I would have remained without treatment and without refugee status. JRS also provided transport and food assistance which helped us a lot. 

My wife also helped me very much. Again and again she visited different organisations in search for assistance, sometimes spending the whole day. She is now attending an adult school and I would like her to continue studying.

The plight of the Anyuaks remains unheard

Until today, my fellow Anyuaks are spread all over the world, some are in Kenya, some in Egypt, some in Sudan. There is no possibility for us to return because the situation is still insecure and people fear they will be arrested or killed once they return. 

Other refugee communities from Rwanda, Ethiopia or Somalia know how to approach humanitarian organisations and find help but many of us do not. I am very concerned about my people because most of them do not speak English, their level of education is not according to the global standards and no one represents them at the international institutions. 

Therefore our case is not known and our plight not heard. I am committed to do something for my community and I hope that organisations like JRS can also help them to get access to food, health care and education. I am almost 50 now but once I have recovered from my illness I would like to take up a profession which enables me to empower and assist my people.