Human rights organisations in Garissa have called on the government to ensure that refugees in the country are accorded their basic rights and treated in a humane way.
The human rights defenders say that for over thirty years, Garissa residents who had been registered in the refugees’ database have not been able to get National ID cards, making it hard for them to get birth certificates for their children.
“The biggest challenge we are having in North Eastern is getting nationality documents. Some people cannot get their national ID, birth certificates for their children or even travel documents such as passports,” said Haki Na Sheria’s Yussuf Bashir.
“Those whose fingerprints are in the refugees’ database went there not because they wanted to become refugees but wanted to get food and have access to social amenities during that time,” he added.
The human rights group were speaking during a meeting with Kenya Editors Guild in Garissa town where they urged the media to highlight the issues affecting refugees.
Garissa County Human Rights vice chairperson Fatuma Bathi noted that sexual and gender based violence cases are also being reported in refugee camps and urged the relevant authorities to take action against the culprits.
Fatuma urged the government to fast-track the process of removing Kenyans from refugees’ database so that they would be able to access government services.
Andy Kagwe from the Kenya Editors Guild said that the media will be engaging stakeholders to be able to highlight and educate the citizens on the issues of refugees and their rights.
“It is important that we are discussing these issues just before the celebrations of International Refugees’ Day on Monday next week whose theme is right to seek safety,” Kagwe said
“As media, we are giving people opportunities to highlight refugee issues on our platforms; newspapers, TV, Radio and digital news. We are setting aside columns for analysts to give commentaries on how the issues on refugees are affecting people in different regions,” he added.
We are asking the government to see how to get a middle ground with refugees because they also have their rights.
Earlier this year, the government issued 12,500 ID cards for Kenyans from North Eastern counties whose names had been captured on the refugees’ database.
The government announced that there will be more vetting processes to clear the remaining members.
By Erick Kyalo