Operation: Opération: Kenya



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
112,380 refugee children were enrolled in primary education
13,570 people of concern received shelter support and 6,000 households received cash for construction materials
8,350 refugees received voluntary repatriation packages
7,330 best interest assessments were conducted for child protection purposes
380 people received cash or vouchers for business start-ups
2019 planning figures
100% of known SGBV survivors will receive appropriate support
100% of targeted refugee households will be living in adequate dwellings
144,000 registered children will be enrolled in primary education
30,000 Somali refugees will be assisted in their return to Somalia
14,000 people of concern will be registered and issued documentation through late birth registration to prevent statelessness
1,650 Best Interests Assessments  for child protection will be conducted

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2018 490,224
2017 506,915
2016 514,867


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Working environment 

  • The security situation in Kenya has been affected by terrorist attacks, including in Garissa County where the Dadaab refugee camps are located.  
  • Asylum fatigue and the resulting fragile protection environment were evident. This was manifested by a strong push to re-focus the international community’s attention and its humanitarian and development resources to enhancing sustainable return and reintegration solutions in return areas in Somalia.   
  • The refugee encampment policy, requiring refugees to live in designated camps and limiting their movement in the country, continued to be enforced.

Population trends

  • The overall population remained stable as the numbers who left Kenya after accessing a durable solution were offset by those who fled to Kenya to seek asylum.
  • Between 2013 and 2015, drops in the refugee populations from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia were offset by the increasing number of asylum-seekers and refugees from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Burundi.

Achievements and impact

  • The overall situation in Kenya for refugees remained stable; people of concern were able to access protection and assistance services throughout the year with minimal disruptions.
  • UNHCR continued to support the Kenya police in ensuring the safety and security of refugees and staff in Dadaab and Kakuma and remained fully engaged in the monthly task force meetings on the draft refugee bill and policy.
  • In June 2015, the Government of Kenya allocated additional land in Kalobeyei, Turkana County, to decongest Kakuma camp.
  • UNHCR facilitated the issuance of over 17,500 birth certificates across three locations. In total, of some 3,270 best interest assessments and 1,290 best interest determinations were conducted in 2015, covering 80 per cent of the targeted population. 
  • UNHCR made considerable progress in providing medical and legal services to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In 2015, the gender-based violence information management system (GBVIMS) identified some 2,050 cases, 800 of which received medical assistance and 200 of which were provided with legal assistance. 
  • The operation continued to promote livelihood opportunities as a durable solution. In total, 600 refugees were provided with start-up kits (cash or vouchers) upon completion of various training programmes. Over 3,300 refugees benefited from various trainings in entrepreneurship, business and financial skills and some 3,600 undertook various vocational learning programmes. 
  • Over 5,600 refugees were assisted to return to Somalia during the year, while approximately 7,590 refugees were submitted for resettlement and a further 4,990 were resettled to third countries. 
  • UNHCR continued to engage with Kenyan authorities on the issue of preventing and addressing statelessness and supported a national initiative to draft an action plan to reduce statelessness in Kenya. 

Unmet needs

  • Livelihoods and resilience: need for significant investment in enhancing and expanding access to livelihood and resilience opportunities to include 80 percent under-employed and unemployed.  
  • Access to adequate sanitary supplies for adolescent girls and women fell short of achieving the 100 percent target by eight percent, leading to negative consequences in dignity, hygiene and school attendance, among other things. 

Working environment

Regional political and security developments, climate change, and the resulting impact on human lives and livelihoods, are projected to affect humanitarian programmes and refugee operations in Kenya.

For the third year in a row, Kakuma camp, in Turkana County, has been receiving record numbers of refugees from South Sudan. The Government of Kenya decided, on humanitarian grounds, to grant refugee status on a prima facie basis to South Sudanese ­fleeing violence in the country. By late August 2014, there were more than 42,000 new arrivals in Kakuma. Failing a lasting ceasefire and peace and reconciliation in South Sudan, the steady in­flux into Kenya is likely to continue into 2015.

By the end of August 2014, Kakuma camp was unable to accommodate new arrivals; consequently, UNHCR has been seeking to secure new land for its operations in Turkana County. Meanwhile, fresh resources and strategic partners are needed to develop, deliver and sustain quality protection and humanitarian solutions for both protracted and new populations of concern, with particular attention to the significant numbers of unaccompanied and separated children.

A tripartite agreement signed in November 2013 governs the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees in Dadaab, Kenya. This, coupled with ongoing efforts to consolidate peace, security and basic service delivery, and boost livelihood opportunities, are expected to encourage sustainable returns and reintegration.

In 2015, the country’s strong humanitarian traditions of generosity and hospitality towards asylum-seekers and refugees are expected to continue. Government and host-community support include: the preservation of and access to asylum and international protection; access to adequate land and urban asylum space for a growing population of concern; and access to effective basic services, including health care, quality education, markets and livelihood opportunities.

Needs and strategies

Based on the experience and developments of 2014, the majority of essential needs in 2015 are expected to remain in the areas of: life-saving and life-sustaining support, and the pursuit of sustainable and durable solutions. The main priorities are projected to be in: preserving access to asylum and international protection for asylum-seekers and refugees; delivering essential life-saving services in safety and security; providing basic shelter, primary health care, clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services; enabling access to education, acquisition of marketable skills, and work opportunities; as well as supporting voluntary repatriation, resettlement and requests for alternative residency status.

Strategies to achieve the desired outcomes include engaging and coordinating with interested stakeholders to provide technical and material support to governmental, nongovernmental and community-based awareness-raising and capacity-building efforts as part of a broader and integrated solutions’ framework for refugees and host communities. Community-based, protection-compliant approaches in law and order as well as child protection and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention and response activities will also be implemented.

The Government’s reception, registration, documentation, refugee status determination (RSD) and camp management capabilities will be consolidated, and UNHCR will empower community-based management of service-delivery infrastructure.

The joint global education strategy of UNHCR, UNICEF and the Government, adapted to the local context and contributing to child protection and SGBV responses and prevention, will be implemented and durable solutions and livelihood opportunities enhanced. UNHCR will continue to pursue coordinated advocacy and strategic interventions to prevent statelessness among at-risk communities and refugee-hosting communities.

To advance these goals, the Office will foster strategic partnerships with key institutions, specialist service providers and targeted communities.
Latest contributions
  • 19-SEP-2019
  • 18-SEP-2019
  • 16-SEP-2019
  • 13-SEP-2019
    European Union
  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • 12-SEP-2019
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 11-SEP-2019
    Republic of Korea
  • 10-SEP-2019
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 06-SEP-2019
  • 04-SEP-2019
    United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Canada
  • 02-SEP-2019
    European Union
  • 31-AUG-2019

    private donors

  • Sweden

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  • Mexico

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  • Canada

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  • Spain

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  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    private donors