President Kenyatta Signs 2019 Refugee Bill into Law.
On November 17, 2021, President Uhuru Kenyatta Signed the 2019 Refugee Bill into a law that allows almost half a million refugees living in Kenya an opportunity to lead fulfilled lives in the country. This comes at a time where Refugee Led Organizations (RLO’S) have risen to respond to community issues and the last 5 years plus refugees contribution to Kenya have been visible but getting less recognition and support due to complexity on how the refugee situations are managed. The newly signed bill now law brings a renewed hope.
The National assembly had initially amended the controversial section of the bill that sought to compel the Interior ministry and counties to provide temporary housing centres for refugee and asylum seekers, a section that had led to its rejection by the president in 2019.
The new law has earned refugees something to smile about. With access to opportunities for better education, employment and integration within the Kenyan Society, odds will be defied.
Refugees living in Kenya have always decried being denied access to employment opportunities with issues such a lack of certain documents i.e work permits or even the nature of document topping the list despite their education qualifications and prowess in different fields. Many have praised the move as a game changer which will enable them to contribute to Kenya’s economy and better their lives instead of “clotting” in non-progressive life or the Dadaab and Kakuma camps where there is acute supply of basic needs like food and conducive shelter.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) , a leading organization in supporting refugees with livelihoods, and education programs as well as also health, has welcomed President Uhuru’s Move. Victor Odero, Policy and advocate advisor at IRC said,
“This is delightful and much welcomed news, especially given we are only six months away from the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camp closure deadline. This progressive law now provides a framework for the protracted refugee situation in Kenya to finally resolve”,
“Kenya is one of the largest refugee – hosting countries in Africa, and over 500,000 refugees now have hope to economic integration and self reliance as a result of the passing of the bill.”
Odero further added that if the 500,000 refugees could be given the right opportunities then they could greatly contribute to Kenya’s economy and social fabric.
Various human rights organizations and individual people have expressed their satisfaction towards this historical event in Kenya and for refugees especially, Kenya’s step has shone a new dawn for the Refugee community and it’s high time to prove that refugees can deliver with this renewed hope.
Now the big question is how effectively will this law be implemented, only time will tell. Nevertheless, Pamoja Trust, partners to IRC in a REBUILD project, are also urging refugees to read about their rights and the new law as it is the one way we can support its implementation.
Here is a link to the 2019 Refugee Bill before assenting by President Uhuru Kenyatta
By MCreadie Andias & Jean Marie Ishimwe