Operation: Opération: Kenya



Latest update of camps and office locations 21  Nov  2016. By clicking on the icons on the map, additional information is displayed.

Key Figures

2016 end-year results
133,460 refugee children were enrolled in primary education 
33,790 Somali refugees were assisted to return home
17,230 birth certificates were issued, representing 92 percent of the annual target
13,060 refugee ID cards were issued 
9,290 refugees were successfully resettled
4,980 entrepreneurs attended business training classes
2017 planning figures
183,500 registered refugee children will be enrolled in primary education
75,100 individuals will receive return packages on departure
6,520 individuals will be supported through entrepreneurship / business skills training

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2016 514,867
2015 615,112
2014 605,364


[["Refugees",451099],["Asylum-seekers",43764],["Returned refugees",4],["Stateless",20000]]
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2016 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[237.727570235,251.58716732,285.14035843,251.196113504,269.17496251,230.22862539],"expenditure":[118.25891775,100.5735908,113.90905448,101.0363817,124.33198299,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[236.984370095,251.37716724,284.77004236,250.824697504,268.67496278,229.3781588],"p2":[0.30135001,0.11000003,0.37031607,0.371416,0.49999973,0.85046659],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[0.44185013,0.10000005,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[117.75323039,100.5735908,113.73583734,100.84664123,124.06368063,null],"p2":[0.11883841,null,0.17321714,0.18974047,0.26830236,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[0.38684895,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017

Working environment

The operational context in 2016 was characterized by the three consequential policy shifts announced by the Government of Kenya.
In April, the government announced that Somali asylum-seekers would no longer automatically be recognized as prima facie refugees. However, South Sudanese asylum-seekers would continue to be recognized as prima facie.
In May 2016, the government announced its intention to close Dadaab camp within six months. In response to international appeals, Kenya did two important things: first, it reaffirmed its commitment to respect its international protection obligations, including maintaining its deployment of a dedicated police force in refugee-hosting areas as agreed under its Security Partnership Project (SPP) with UNHCR; and second, it extended the closure deadline for Dadaab to the end of May 2017.  
Together with the closure of Dadaab camp, government announced the disbandment of the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA), UNHCR’s long-term government counterpart. This slowed down progress in a number of key areas that aimed at strengthening management of asylum and refugee protection in Kenya. Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), the successor to the DRA (and therefore UNHCR’s new government counterpart), was awaiting Parliament approval at year end.
To support ongoing Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-led regional initiatives to enhance the protection and solutions space for the protracted Somali refugee situation, the High Commissioner for Refugees appointed a Special Envoy to work closely with regional and national authorities and institutions on lasting and viable protection solutions for Somali refugees in the region.
In Kalobeyei, UNHCR invested in the establishment of the settlement’s initial basic infrastructure. A draft Kalobeyei five-year development plan is being elaborated under the joint leadership of Government, UNHCR and relevant development partners.
The Kenya Comprehensive Refugee Program brought together 45 agencies, and serves as an effective operational coordination platform and fundraising tool on issues ranging from program planning and resource mobilization to priority-setting and response management.

Population trends

In 2016, UNHCR registered approximately 41,400 new arrivals in Kenya, with more than half (nearly 24,000) fleeing the spreading crisis in neighboring South Sudan. The general population trend, however, was one of continuing decline as the total assisted population in Kenya fell by nearly 100,000 individuals between January (593,900) and December 2016 (494,900). This was mainly due to the biometric population verification in Dadaab and Kakuma and the voluntary return of close to 33,800 refugees to Somalia, supported by UNHCR.
The assisted population in Kenya includes 494,900 refugees and asylum-seekers, and roughly 20,000 stateless people. Children make up more than half (57 percent) of the total assisted population in Kenya.
By the end of 2016, the top three assisted populations in Kenya were Somalis (326,600), South Sudanese (88,400) and refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (29,406). The refugee population in Kenya is distributed as follows: 55 percent in Garissa County, 41 percent in Turkana County and 14 percent in urban centers (mainly in Nairobi County). 

Achievements and impact

Asylum and protection solutions
  • UNHCR successfully assisted 23,890 South Sudanese, of whom 16,950 were settled in permanent shelter;
  • The public infrastructure in Kalobeyei settlement began taking shape with the successful construction of its first primary school and health center;
  • To add to its Turkana partnership with government, host community and World Bank, UNHCR successfully engaged new actors to contribute to Kalobeyei’s future development. An FAO-UNICEF-WFP-UNHCR partnership  successfully secured  EUR 14.7million from the EU Trust Fund for joint development of the Kalobeyei settlement;
  • Furthermore, as a result of UNHCR’s partnership with the Government and World Bank, part of a USD 100 million loan from the World Bank will be invested by Kenya in the rehabilitation of the Dadaab area;
  • UNHCR and partners successfully advocated the parliament to table a revised Refugee Bill;
  • A population verification using biometric and anti-fraud systems was successfully undertaken in the Dadaab and Kakuma areas. The first urban verification in Kenya was initiated towards the end of 2016, for completion in 2017.
Durable Solutions:
  • 33,790 Somali refugees were successfully assisted to return home;
  • UNHCR’s offices in both Kenya and Somalia undertook practical steps to enhance the quality and timeliness of Country of Origin information shared with refugees who are considering return;
  • 7,359 refugees successfully resettled to resettlement countries (the United States of America; Australia; Canada, Sweden and UK). All staff involved in the resettlement process underwent fraud training. Improved referral and reporting structures resulted in a higher fraud detection rate.

Unmet needs

  • Adequate food assistance or better alternative assistance is needed urgently to mitigate nutritional, health, socio-economic and protection impact of chronic food cuts or shortages. These were particularly harming to a  disproportionate number of women and children, the majority of the population;
  • To ensure quality protection outcomes for current and future generations of refugees and asylum-seekers in Kenya, need additional multi-year, multi-partner commitments and resources from development and private sectors to enable essential investments in a viable Kalobeyei settlement; and
  • Significant demand for additional opportunities in higher and tertiary education, resilient livelihoods and vocational skills training, particularly among the youth demographic.

By January 2015, Kenya was hosting more than 585,000 refugees and asylum-seekers (including 356,000 in the Dadaab refugee complex; 178,000 in Kakuma camp; and 51,200 in urban areas). The Government of Kenya, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations have continued to provide protection and basic assistance for this population. It is anticipated that the number of people of concern will grow by the end of 2015 to at least 601,000, made up of mainly new arrivals from South Sudan, should the conflict persist.

UNHCR’s operations and protection strategies are subject to the highly volatile political and security environment in the region. The Government and people of Kenya continues to host refugees and asylum-seekers. Significant numbers are from Somalia and South Sudan, and have been living in the country since the early 1990s.
The Government provides land; safety, security and legal services; and registration and documentation for refugees. Registered refugees and asylum-seekers also enjoy access to public health care and education opportunities. In addition, certain groups of refugees and people at risk of statelessness are eligible for naturalization and citizenship under the country’s Constitution, adopted in 2010.
In 2016, UNHCR will continue to support the Government to maintain a receptive policy and solutions environment, as Kenya continues to host a significant refugee population. Adequate support will enable inclusive and targeted development and resilience programmes in refugee and host communities. Youth strategies, informed by age, gender and diversity principles, will also seek to ensure a representative, balanced and sustainable approach to supporting young people of concern to UNHCR.