Kenya: Unicef Probing Senior Staffer Who Stormed House Party, Hurled Racial Abuses

16 September 2020

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has launched investigations into an incident where one of their employees is said to have stormed a private house party and assaulted the host and her guests while hurling racial slurs.

Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mohamed Fall, said the agency is probing the Saturday incident.

Philip van de Graaf, who is the organisation's regional procurement and supply chain specialist, was filmed hurling racially charged comments at partygoers at an apartment in Nairobi.

"UNICEF has launched an investigation into events from Saturday in Nairobi that have been shown on social media. We have been in Kenya for many years, and both our country and regional offices are warmly hosted by the Government of Kenya," Fall said on Tuesday.

"Throughout that time, we have all enjoyed the warmth and friendship of the Kenyan people, for which we are most grateful. At all times we expect impeccable behaviour from our staff, as they go about their critical and life-saving work for children throughout the region."

His response came after Thogori Karago, co-founder of travel booking platform Pink Coconuts, shared video clips shot on September 12, 2020 and detailed her experience in a social media post.

Karago had rented an Airbnb in the Ridgeways, Nairobi, to host a post-wedding luncheon for her brother when Graaf gatecrashed and began acting violently toward the guests.

Unprintable abuses

"It's 9 o'clock now, no? It's curfew time, no?" Graaf can be heard saying as he enters the premises and interrupts a guest's speech. He then asks who is renting the Airbnb and demands they leave.

As Karago unsuccessfully asks him to back off, he shouts unprintable abuses and raises his middle finger to the man filming the altercation. He then begins shoving guests while insulting them and threatening to kill them.

"However, much to my dismay he refused to leave and continued shouting and addressing me and my friends aggressively, I asked him to calm down and step away as he continued to shout verbal abusive words and racial slurs towards me and my friends," Karago said.

Graaf who, according to his LinkedIn page, has worked for UNICEF for more than a decade, then stumbles backwards and appears to trip over patio furniture as the guests repeatedly ask him to leave.

A second video, however, shows that the altercation continues for several more minutes. He staggers around while hurling more profanities and gets increasingly agitated.

The man filming the video dares Graaf to call the police and adds, "I will post this on Twitter. Trust me, you are leaving this country."

After stumbling around for a while, Graaf appears to trip over some furniture before two partygoers finally wrestle him to the ground.

Karago said they locked themselves in the house and called officers from Muthaiga Police Station.

Unnecessary disturbance

"We were assigned police officers Noor Abdi and Veronica Bett who came to the property and listened to our grievances regarding the earlier events and took evidence," she said.

Graaf reportedly told the police that he is an employee of UNICEF.

"The officers sought to engage the man at his premises but he refused to admit liability for causing unnecessary disturbance, verbal and physical assault towards several persons as they attempted to defend themselves."

In addition to disclosing his identity, police said that that the aggressor has a "history of substance abuse, racially abusive language and using his dogs against guards assigned."

"We are ready to provide several witnesses and have submitted this as an official compliant of Phillip Van de Graaf's unwelcome and unsolicited behaviour and verbal and physical assault towards myself and others as a foreign national and diplomat resident in my country Kenya," Karago said.

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