Sunday 20th June being an annual commemoration of the world refugee day, an international recognition set aside to honor Refugees across the world. The seamless narrative and campaign to abdicate for refugee inclusion has been at its peak.
Over the past few decades Refugees have faced far more than the worst of overwhelming challenges in countries they have sought Refuge in. Thousands live in these countries for almost all their lifetime , where they have been married and others have children with even the locals .Perhaps honoring a citizenship would be fair enough but that doesn’t seem like a simple deal. The durable solutions available are limited as compared to the number of refugees Kenya hosts. It is estimated that Kenya hosts slightly over half a million refugees . Voluntary repatriation has been an effective solution but for many refugees they still can’t go back . They cannot afford to go back to the skulls of their forefathers with nowhere to start or call home. The other solutions and one of the best is resettlement but only takes a small percentage , Learn more about resettlement of refugees here – https://www.unhcr.org/ke/resettlement
In worse circumstances heinous public servants like the police have done much worse like blackmailing Refugees by demanding bribes to allow them to freely interact within the economic spaces and if they don’t comply they are arrested.
Refugees have been exacerbated due to lack of access to essential public services like cash transfers through mobile or banks i.e. mpesa ,curtailment to health services where a Somali refugee woman cannot attend emergency maternal attention or a hardworking brilliant Rwandan student unable to enroll to a public university due to lack of proper documentation despite scoring stunning results in exams. No business permits or licensing to conduct legitimate businesses and all these nightmares Refugees are facing can’t stop the sweat from dropping.
Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan influential activist had a lot to say during a refugee forum on Sunday 20th June organized by Refugee Youth Education Hub under the leadership of Mr Abdullahi Mire at the Pallet Cafe -Lavington .
“Refugees status isn’t permanent” Mwangi lamented in a Facebook post “We need to create a pathway for Refugees born in Kenya to become citizens. It’s the right thing to do. Other countries have proved it can be done. Children born in Kenyan refugee camps have migrated and become citizens in other countries and some serve elected and appointed government positions. We should start assimilation of Kenya born Refugees, this is their home.” Mwangi decried.
A series of events took place during the #worldrefugeeweek including but limited to Migration Jam – Social innovation: African blazing the trail , World Service University of Canada (WUSC) And World Vision – Inclusion . Intersections and Refugee Education . Refugee Activist ,Maya Aluer came out strongly in her presentation at the migration jam event to give sense to what is really the refugee definition , and on her Facebook she posted
“Start having conversations around who’s a refugee? why they flee their Countries of origin ?What do they need to progress and adapt to the new life? Offer help where you can and progressively advocate for them, there’s a need for refugee inclusion in every table, don’t just be a humanitarian worker, let what you stand for reflect in your treatment of the people you serve.”
Another event organized by WUSC and World Vision saw different refugees who have so much passion in the advocacy of refugees issues share their lived experiences and efforts towards the inclusion , intersections of refugee education, among notable refugee names in the event include Istarlin Abdi ,Qais Abdirazaqq , Jean Marie Ishimwe , Mwongera Christine and Anojitha Sivaskaran and it came as an eye- opener raising eyebrows on the place of Refugees in the face of the world. This very constructive virtual discussion was all that was needed to show a sight of hope at the end of the tunnel. Much was discussed on how this marginalized community could now be remembered and excavated from the dooms of the dark corners. Perhaps more inclusion efforts , support , acquisition of proper documentation would lead to easy access to government/NGO services in education, employment , health or even legal representation.
The time is now to remember those whose Cries have been voiceless for decades and the time is now. #redifiningrefugees #thisisrefugeevocies #onepeople .
Pictures : Boniface Mwangi & Mohammed Mahat