800 LGBTQ Refugees Safe from Malaria

October 2, 2023

After a brief hiatus in operations in 2022, Millie's Bookshelf conducted its first humanitarian distribution of the year in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya this fall. Originally built for Somali refugees in the 1990s, Kakuma is now a bustling town home to three separate camps that host displaced people from all over eastern Africa. Following draconian anti-LGBTQ laws that were recently passed in Uganda and elsewhere, many LGBTQ individuals have fled to Kakuma in fear for their lives and dignity. Over 800 LGBTQ individuals have settled into Block 6 in Kakuma refugee camp, where they have self-organized to advocate for their needs to the international community.

Amidst difficulties accessing humanitarian aid and rampant discrimination preventing LGBTQ refugees from accessing employment, the Block 6 LGBT Organization reached out to Millie's for support. Their most pressing need was identified as preventing malaria during the upcoming rainy season, so a sub-grant was provided to enable the local procurement of 800 insecticide-treated nets and soaps.

Millie's Bookshelf Executive Director, Katie Howland, shared her feelings about the distribution.

"As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, it was heartening to be able to partner with the Block 6 organization to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is a factor in who is safe from malaria this season. Block 6 leadership was among the most professional, organized, and committed group I have had the pleasure to work with."

The unmet need for LGBTQ refugees in Kakuma unfortuantely remains very high, with insufficient food aid cited as the most pressing need. For more information on how to assist in the provision of food and other supplies, you may follow @lgbtblock6 on X (formerly known as Twitter).