After a spate of grenade attacks in Nairobi, the coastal region and the Somali-inhabited North Eastern province, the Kenyan government has launched a massive crackdown on ethnic Somalis. More than 4000 Somalis have been arrested since Kenya launched Operation Usalama watch on April 2, ostensibly in response to the deteriorating domestic security situation.
The shopping malls and market stands of a Somali-dominated suburb in eastern Nairobi have been quieter than usual.
Taxi drivers in Eastleigh, a lucrative trade hub known locally as “Little Mogadishu”, say business is drying up as Somalis leave Kenya to return home.
Somali refugees are being harassed by Kenyan police, and wrongfully blamed for a wave of attacks that have shaken Kenya in recent months.
"People here are scared," says Jayhan Mohamed, a refugee in Eastleigh who fled a forced marriage and daily gunfights in the war-ravaged Somali capital, Mogadishu, with her baby son four years ago.
"Somalis are attacked in their shops and homes. Police are going into houses, demanding money. Some people have been forced to sell their jewellery just to buy their way out of the police station.
"Many are running away from Kenya, going back home to a country without security rather than stay here."
The security sweep in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood, home to a substantial number of Somalis, has touched raw nerves, highlighting an already fraught relationship between Kenyan-Somalis and the state.
Somalis in Kenya are protesting the country’s security crackdown with the photo campaign Kenya I’m not a terrorist
#Kenya I’m not a terrorist is a photo campaign shining light on the ethnic profiling and discrimination Somalis have been subjected to in Kenya. With this campaign, they tell their stories.
Read more about their stories here
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