Government, UN pledge support for refugees in Kakuma, Dadaab

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government and a United Nations agency have pledged to support refugees and the host community to promote integration and resource-sharing among communities in Turkana County.

Speaking during the World Refugee Day celebration at Kakuma Refugee Camp on Tuesday, State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the government is committed to refugees' issues and ensuring their dignified stay in Kenya.

Bitok said his department is implementing policies and programmes to ensure the refugees' safety.

"We ask the refugee community to abide by the laws of Kenya and desist from vices such as indulging in crime, illegal business and sale of illicit brews that are unacceptable. Instead, ensure harmonious coexistence," Prof Bitok said.

Permanent settlements

He revealed that under a new programme 'Nashiriki Plan', the government will pursue the transformation of Kakuma and Dadaab camps into permanent settlements and support the self-reliance of the over 600,000 refugees.

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai said the county government would support refugees by integrating them into programmes that would benefit all.

"We stand proud and honoured to have provided support to refugees who have sought shelter within our borders. Since the arrival of the 'Lost Boys of Sudan' in 1992, residents of Turkana have opened their arms to those in need," Mr Lomorukai said.

Turkana is home to over 300,000 refugees in the Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement.

The governor said the county government has been working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) and other partners to implement the Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-economic Plan.

Aspects of governance

Lomorukai underscored the inclusion of refugees as residents of Turkana County in various aspects of governance, including public participation in county legislation.

He asked partners to collaborate to improve the water supply in Kakuma Municipality and ensure environmental protection in the face of deforestation that is endangering indigenous trees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi thanked Kenya for agreeing to host refugees. "You embraced peace and chose generosity towards your brothers and sisters coming from difficult circumstances," he said.