THE PLIGHT OF REFUGEES IN NAKURU, KENYA
BY RACHUONYO DUNCAN
As many people around the globe prepare to celebrate World Refugee Day, many communities hope to raise awareness about the plight of refugees. Refugees are people who have escape their country of origin because of persecution, fear of persecution, civil war among other various reasons.
According to Alex Gogo, Department of Refugee Agency, Nakuru, the number of refugees from South Sudan is increasing daily and it is estimated the total number could be at least 10,000 in Nakuru alone. He noted that most of the refugees living in Nakuru County are registered at Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps. “Sometimes it is very hard to know the exact number of refugees living in Nakuru, since many of them have not been registered with our DRA offices,” he added.
He also highlighted that a language barrier is challenging for some of them although their interaction with the locals has never been affected.
According to Godo there are currently 3,000 registered at the DRA Nakuru and many are facing numerous challenges to earn a living.
The DRA official says that concrete policy to manage refugees living in urban need to be implemented to enable smooth running of their operations. “There is no clear policies on urban refugees, their numbers are growing daily”. He added that there was a need to profile new arrivals in different Counties to enable the DRA officials to monitor and also know about their existence.
According to UNHCR “Global displacement now stands at an unprecedented level of 50 million people –and the world’s poorest counties are taking care of most of the refugees”.
Abdulrehman Ahmed Mohammed, District Peace Committee member told the Tamuka team that police harassment is still on the rise, and that refugees everywhere are faced with many challenges especially during police patrols at night. “The alien cards that refugees hold are not recognized by the police, many have lost their cards to the hands of the police,” he explains.
He further suggested that the DRA office should create much more awareness to the police administration since many believe that refugees do not have their own rights. “Whenever there are insecurity threats in the country, refugees are mostly targeted and a bigger number of them have been arrested without any valid reasons,” he laments. He added that in the recently, refugees from the Somali community were arrested for being suspected of being terrorists or even collaborating with outlawed groups.
Women and Education
The majority of the South Sudanese living in Nakuru are struggling just like other women to add knowledge to their lives. More than 40 women from the South Sudanese community assembled at the Charismata center in Nakuru for one of Xavier Project’s Women Empowerment classes to be taught and also pass on this knowledge to other women living amongst them. “Education is power, and it does not have an age limit. Refugee women have been neglected for a long time, but no more thanks to Xavier Project,” one of the women was heard saying. Most of the women are yearning to learn despite challenges they are facing such as a language barrier.
Mario Manyoun, South Sudanese Chairman, Nakuru, says that most of the families still cannot afford to raise school fees for their children.
“There is a high number of children that cannot access education, and we feel that necessary support is needed,” he added.
Many of the women Xavier Project interviewed applauded the role the organization was playing in empowering the refugee women living in major towns in Kenya. “We have found a good opportunity to learn, in future we will not depend on our children or even our husbands, majority of us cannot read or even speak good English,” she posed and laughed.