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Refugee integration plan to cost taxpayer Sh130bn, Bitok says


 Children in a class at a school in Dadaab Refugee Camp on Feb 28, 2020. [File, Standard]

As the globe celebrates World Refugees Day, the government plans to integrate refugees at Dadaab and Kakuma camps within host communities at a cost of Sh130 billion.

The plan will be done in phases with 2024-2027 set for transition. The period between 2028 and 2031 will be for stabilisation while 2032-2035 is set for resilience.

The money will be sourced from national and county governments, concessional development assistance, bilateral funding and public-private partnerships. The details emerged on Thursday when Immigration Principal Secretary Julius Bitok received the zero draft of the plan from the steering committee.

Flanked by Turkana governor Jeremiah Lomorukai, the PS said more than 900,000 refugees will benefit from the plan dubbed Shirika.

Lomorukai said the budget will be used to transition the camps into municipalities and the inclusion of refugees into Kenya’s national system.

The plan will also support economic development in Turkana and Garissa.

Bitok said the plan is a pioneering example of a new approach to refugee management that seeks to transform refugees’ lives and ease pressure on the host community.

“Shirika plan aims to ensure refugees get to enjoy all the services and all opportunities, whether it is education or housing, infrastructure and scholarships to ensure they live in harmony,” he said.

The PS said talks are underway to ensure security is beefed up during and after the transition.

Over the years, residents and aid officials from Dadaab camps have expressed concerns for their safety as bandits kill, rape and steal while Islamic militants target civilians and security forces with bombs and shootings.

After the validation of the Shirika Plan by the national steering committee, there shall be stakeholder engagement. It shall then be taken to the Cabinet by August ahead of launch scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, Africa International University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Joseph Kiplangat is urging the government and stakeholders to join hands in serving the needs of refugees and immigrants.

Speaking yesterday when the university marked its 40th anniversary, Prof Kiplangat said Kenya’s refugee integration efforts have gained significant momentum. The university offers refugees fleeing conflict a path to higher education and rebuilding their lives in Nairobi.

“We urge collaboration with institutions like ours, as we have faced challenges with undocumented refugees. However, we are working closely with the ministries of Migration, Citizen Services, and Foreign Affairs to assist in settling these displaced individuals,” Kiplangat said.

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