World Refugee Day (20th June, 2018)

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The UNHCR defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.

This day will always remind us of the refuge crisis Kenya and other parts of the world experience. Today Syria produces the world largest refugee population due to conflict in the country. Many of them settle in their neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and etc.  Refugees in Kenya are mainly from two countries that is Somalia and Sudan. Majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya came from Somalia (58.2%). Other major nationalities are South Sudanese (22.9%), Congolese (7.3%); Ethiopians (5.7%). Persons of concern from other nationalities including Sudan, Rwanda, Eritrea, Burundi, Uganda and others make up 5.8 % of the total population (486,460 as at the end of January 2018).

Almost half of the refugees in Kenya (49%) reside in Dadaab, 38 % in Kakuma and 13 % in urban areas (mainly Nairobi). When people flee from their homes and became refugee it is common sense that they will face a lot of challenges where ever they are. Refugees are vulnerable people and in one way or the other will always experience the following challenges;

  • Finding affordable housing
  • Finding employment
  • Language and communication barriers
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Community attitudes
  • Impact of disrupted education on schooling
  • Learning English
  • Distance and lack of communication with families in the home country and/ or countries of asylum (particularly if/where the family remains in a conflict situation)
  • Ongoing mental health issues due to trauma, including survivor guilt
  • Financial difficulties
  • Separation from family members; living in blended families
  • Changes in roles and status of family members.
  • Physical and psychological effects of trauma
  • Language and literacy difficulties due to disrupted or limited prior education
  • Issues with identity and belonging
  • Changing family responsibilities.

It is important to remember that anyone can be a refugee. No one knows what tomorrow brings. We sympathize with all people who are currently living in a refugee status and as we do so we can do a lot to assist them wherever they are. We can do so by;

  • Hosting in our homes
  • Volunteering skills
  • Helping them integrate into our culture
  • encouraging Universities to provide scholarships to them
  • allowing them to be volunteers
  • holding awareness and fund raising for them
  • Donating cash, clothing, food etc for them.
  • Provide safety

Compiled by Grace Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library