Government commence process to de-register Kenyans from UNHCR

Haki Na Sheria program Officer Khasida Abdullahi, her colleague Bare Aden (Left), and Garissa Deputy County Commissioner Solomon Chesut addressing the press.

The government has launched another round of vetting to de-register Kenyans in the UNHCR database after years of desperation that saw them live in a life of uncertainty.

An estimation of over 40,000 Kenyans majority of teenagers who found themselves in the UN’s refugee agency, could not secure Kenya’s citizenship documentation and suffered legal dilemma.

Last week, the Interior Ministry issued a circular to the sub-county Security and Intelligence Committee granting them authority to vet and recommend for registration of Kenyans who previously registered as refugees.

The communication also provided guidelines for the officials to follow during the vetting.

The affected persons are supposed to be introduced by the area chief in writing with the photo of the applicant, they are also supposed to appear in person accompanied by their parents.

“Where the affected person’s parents or siblings are deceased, the chief will confirm in writing the blood guardian to support the identity of the affected person and shall be required to commit himself on the application forms.”

According to the circular, the affected persons are required to produce acceptable documentary evidence as proof of age and also to declare their refugee status number acquired at the refugee camp.

Haki Na Sheria, a non-governmental organization that has been advocating for the rights of double registered individuals with the office of Garissa Township Deputy County Commissioner and National Registration Bureau met with Chiefs and their assistants within Garissa township to discuss the plans to commence the activity.

Addressing journalists at Jamhuri Recreation Center in Garissa, the DCC Solomon Chesut warned brokers who could take advantage of affected people who might not be properly informed on the process of the vetting saying tough action will be taken against anyone found soliciting bribes adding that the process is free of charge.

He said they are still waiting for direction on when exactly to start the process noting that in the next one or two weeks the process will officially kick off and timelines have also been stipulated.

The government successfully issued Identity cards to over 12000 individuals in January 2022, a much publicized vetting took place in late 2019 while previous vetting in 2016 failed.

However, there are individuals who had undergone the vetting during the 2019 exercise but are yet to secure their citizenship documentation, a factor the DCC said was occasioned by anomalies in the initial presentation of documents.

“Those who applied we are assuring them that they should not worry because there were some anomalies and we are correcting them, the sub-county security and Intelligence committee are sitting down to make corrections where possible and if individuals are required, they will be called,” he said.

On her part, Haki Na Sherira Initiative’s program Officer Khasida Abdullahi hailed governments to solve the double registration quagmire saying this group of people have suffered for the longest time with little or no redress.

“we appreciate the government for bringing this vetting, we understand these people have suffered so much simply because they have registered themselves in the UNHCR, we hope this exercise will be able to de-register all remaining Kenyans once and for all,” she said.

She said they are looking forward for an initiative from the government that helps individuals registered in the UN’s Refugee agency database can de-register themselves at will without even such an exercise.

“We are calling out to all those whose fingerprints are in the UNHCR database to take advantage of the exercise and come out to de-register themselves,” added the official.

“Imagine of someone who cannot even use Mpesa, travel or pursue higher learning just because of a lack of Identity card, as Haki Na sheria we are committed to working with all partners to ensure these people live a dignified life,” she told journalists.