Kenyan refugee living in Derry slams petition

A Kenyan woman living in Derry has reacted angrily to a petition that has been organised to stop migrants settling in the area.

The petition was organised by Louise Logan from Newbuildings and, at the time of going to Press last night, had almost 1,000 supporters.

The title of the petition is ‘Stop Eamon [sic] McCann from bringing migrant’s [sic] into our town’.

Kenyan migrant, Lilian Seenoi, faced stiff opposition from some men within the Maasai tradition when she lived and worked in Kenya.

Lilian helped to rescue more than 5,000 girls from arranged marriages and female genital mutilation.

As a result of her work, Lilian was forced to leave Kenya and several years ago she arrived in Derry with her young children.

Lilian is the Executive Director of the North West Migrants Forum in Derry and described the online petition set up to stop migrants coming to the city as deeply offensive.

“I will live in love, not fear, and I hope everyone in this city who believes in humanity does the same,” she said.

“The first and great commandment is ‘don’t let them scare you’ - please let Louise Logan know this.”

The campaign to stop migrants, including those from war-torn Syria and Iraq, was set-up less than 48 hours after the terror attacks in Paris during which 129 people lost their lives.

Many of those who supported Ms Logan’s petition said they did so because they were afraid of a similar terrorist attack happening in Derry.

“I, like many of the members of the North West Migrants Forum, am a refugee.

“We currently have 175 registered members from the migrant community living in Derry City an​d​ Strabane ​District Council area.

“These​ migrants have been living and working in this area for the last 10 years, for some and others more than 30 years,” said Ms Seenoi.

“The migrants have done nothing but contribute to the social and economic ​development of this city,” she said

Ms Seenoi said migrants living in Derry just want to feel safe and contribute to society like everyone else.

“Every time I visit Altnagelvin I meet several nurses and doctors from the migrant community who are looking after the sick.

“Yes, I am a migrant and I migrated here and now this is my home but I want the best for everyone in the city regardless of their background.

“We are quick to forget that in the 1970s many Irish people left this country and the world opened its doors for them.

“They may have been abused, discriminated and treated worse than animals - most of us go through the same treatment here, we are abused, discriminated against and hated but we get on with our lives and still make a positive change to our community,” said Lilian.

“The same way the Irish people did in England, Australia, Canada and America. I think, as human beings, we should help the wounded, the sick, the starving, the struggling, the poor, the weak, the scared, and the lost.

“How? In any way possible ​big or small. Locally and globally,” she added.