NAIROBI (voa) — Somalis in Kenya say police are systematically soliciting bribes during an ongoing crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants. Police have denied the allegations.
Police searched the home of 20-year-old, Kenya-born Farhia who lives in a small apartment in Nairobi’s predominantly Somali Eastleigh neighborhood. VOA visited her just minutes after the search.
“They came to my house just now,” she told VOA. “I showed them my student ID then my birth certificate. They were not interested in either of that. They told me to give them money and they will release me.”
Farhia says she gave them 5,000 shillings, or about $60.
For residents of Eastleigh, these shakedowns have become a common occurrence, with police visiting the same home up to six times a day, sometimes knocking in the middle of the night. Somalis say the police call them ATMs — human cash machines.
Others say police have taken jewelry, smart phones and other valuables.
The door-to-door searches are part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants following recent attacks and threats on the country claimed by Somali militants.
Police say hundreds of people have been arrested and at least 82 have been deported to Somalia since operations began last week.
Mohamed Hussein Maalim lives in the same building as Farhia. He says would not have an issue with the operation, if it was carried out responsibly.
“With those persons who have no ID, who have no identification cards, who are illegal in this country, return them back to their country,” said Maalim. “We won’t have any problem and we are happy with that.”
READ MORE: VOA