The government has adopted comprehensive refugee response framework that will improve the coordination of refugees’ issues and address needs of communities hosting refugees.
Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i said the new approach will culminate in multi sectoral self-reliance programme for refugees and the host community.
“The overall objective of the comprehensive refugee response framework is to provide a well-coordinated and predictable government led response to refugee issues as well as address the needs of the host community in refugee programmes,” said Matiangi.
Matiang’i made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary Winnie Guchu during the world refugee day ceremony commemorated in Kakuma with the theme of ensuring everyone has the right to seek safety whoever they are, wherever they come from and wherever they are forced to flee.
He said the government has reviewed the law related to refugees and a new Refugee Act 2021 has been enacted to provide more and better ways to support refugees in the country.
“The government has formulated the Kenya comprehensive refugee response framework with the aim to implement the New York convention of 2016 and the Global Compact of refugee of 2018,” said the CS.
Kenya is offering refuge to 550, 817 refugees. A majority of the refugees are from the horn of Africa and the great lakes region who are hosted in camps and urban areas.
The Cabinet Secretary said the government is also committed to equip refugees with skills that will be useful to the rebuilding of their lives upon return to their countries once conditions in their countries of origin become better.
“As we mark this day and reflect on the perseverance of the refugees that we have given asylum, we shall not forget the host community who have warmly welcomed our fellow brothers and sisters and accommodated them to coexist peacefully,” he said.
Matiang’i urged the development partners and private sector to take advantage of available investment opportunities in the refugee host areas; this will in turn create opportunities for the refugees and host communities.
UNHCR Country Representative Caroline Van Buren said the day is meant to honour the courage and contribution of millions of people who around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, war or persecution.
Van Buren said the day helps to remember that with the help of hosts people can rebuild their lives and even thrive. It is also a day when we honour refugees who bring their cultures, their unique experiences and their hope.
She said the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict crossed the one million mark for the first time.
Van Buren at the same time underscored the need to protect the right to asylum, ensuring safe access, ensuring that no one is pushed back to their country where their lives and freedom will be threatened, non-discrimination and like all human beings ensure that people forced to flee are treated with dignity and respect.
Kenya has a long standing history spanning three decades of welcoming and offering protection of refugees.
She said people who had been forced to flee their homes need a chance to rebuild by going to schools, find work, access healthcare, seek mental health services and thrive.
She recognized Pur Biel, a South Sudanese refugee who was given an opportunity to practice running and competed in the first refugee team in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and was selected as team leader for the refugee Olympic team in Tokyo 2020.
Earlier this year, Biel was also elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee becoming the first refugee to join the organisation.
She hailed him for being a role model for the refugees and young people. “It is our responsibility to ensure that those who flee their homes rebuild their lives free from discrimination,” she said.
“We must start to welcome them as equal partners in creating long term solutions and a chance to return home when it is safe to do so, to integrate locally or in the most urgent cases to resettle to a third country,” she added.
The government of Kenya recently enacted the Refugee Act 2021 and has taken a progressive decision to shift from a policy of encampment to integrated settlement and ensure that both refugees and host communities mutually benefit.
Turkana County Commissioner Mr. Muthama Wambua said the government has been giving security to the refugees and meeting their needs like ensuring they have access to mobile network connectivity.
He noted that although most of the refugees are law abiding there are few elements that violate the law by brewing illicit drinks.
“The youth especially form four leavers need to be empowered to prevent them from engaging in criminal activities. Boda boda owners should take advantage of the government initiative and register their boda boda,” he said.
Matiang’i in the speech said the government will continue to offer and engage with governments in the region to address conflicts in the region which have led to the forced migration and incidents of refugees in the region and the world.
“As durable solutions are being sought the government will continue to undertake reception, registration, protection and facilitate the integration of voluntary repatriation of refugees to their countries of origin and settlement to their countries,” he noted
By Peter Gitonga