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Strengthening refugee inclusion in governance

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai has reiterated that his administration will continue supporting partnership programs commenced by the past regime, with the aim of providing an integrated response to refugee issues in the Kakuma and Kalobeyei areas of Turkana West Sub-County.

Speaking at a hotel in Gigiri during   a round table discussion with Danish embassy in Kenya and other stakeholders, the Governor noted that refugee crisis was not a short-term challenge and that successful implementation of Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement Development Program (KISEDP), a model for boosting host-refugee integration efforts will transform the economic situation of Turkana west.

“We are calling on our partners to continue their support towards the KISEDP programme, whose first phase has been concluded and the progress made in improving socio economic well-being of refugees and host communities can be seen,” he added.

Refugees, he noted, currently constitute about 17 percent of the Turkana population and therefore considered to be part of residents of Turkana, as tax payers and recipients of government services.

“My administration will further continue with efforts to strengthen refugee inclusion in governance, public participation processes during formulation of important bills and policies, among them the Finance Bill, which establishes rates and charges that affect entrepreneurs, among others,” Lomorukai said.

The planned establishment of Kakuma-Kalobeyei Municipality, he added is still on course and the municipality charter will soon be approved by the County Assembly to finalize the plan as the new status will act as a base for sustainable urban development.

Lomorukai lauded inputs of partner agencies and state actors in the past in ensuring the implementation of resilience-building activities that have considerably improved the quality of life of both the host community and refugees residing at Kakuma and Kalobeyei.

The government is committed that as the County invests to grow entrepreneurship among refugees and host communities, it will also address the red-tape and bureaucracies experienced by budding entrepreneurs and promised that his administration will finalize the project through partnership with IFC and UNHCR.

The meeting was hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy in Kenya together with three Danish philanthropic foundations namely Lego Foundation, Grundfos and Novo Nordisk Foundation and was attended by Irene Giribaldi, EU delegation to Kenya, head of cooperation, and Caroline van Buren, UNHCR country representative.

The meeting extensively deliberated on the proposed Marshal Plan to support host-refugee integration efforts moving forward.

The Danish Ambassador to Kenya Amb. Ole Thonke said that Kenya had demonstrated desirable commitment towards implementation of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

The CRRF is the first of two Annexes to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted in September 2016 at a High-level meeting of the UN General Assembly and contains a set of commitments to be implemented in situations involving large scale movement of refugees.

The round table meeting also delved into implementation of the Refugee Act 2021 and the integrated approach through the Kenya Marshal Plan that Kenya transitioned to on February 23 this year.

The Refugee Act of 2021 recognizes protection and management of refugees in Kenya and gives new hope to over 500,000 refugees in the country as they will now have access to livelihoods and economic and social integration.

Katee Mwanza, the Commissioner for Refugee Services (DRS) assured of the Governments’ commitment towards the realization of the integrated settlement through the Kenyan “Marshal Plan” as a tool of mobilizing resources.

Chief officers Jeremiah Apalia (Tourism), John Tukei (Pastoral Economy), Dr. Jacob Lolelia (Lands), Dr. Malcolm Lochodo (Health) and Vivian Esekon, Head of Groundwater in Turkana accompanied the Governor during the meeting.

Organizations in attendance included: European Union delegation to Kenya, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, World Food Programme, World Bank, Netherlands Embassy, Embassy of Sweden, US Embassy, Regional Durable Solutions Secretariat (ReDSS), Danish Refugee Council, DanChurch Aid, Refuge Consortium of Kenya, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Kakuma Kalobeyei Challenge Fund (KKCF), Danish Red Cross, Turkana Christian Development Mission, Finish Church Aid and Water Sector Trust Fund – WSTF.

The meeting comes at a time when the Turkana County and partners have just concluded implementing the first phase of KISEDP, amid the worsening drought situation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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