Operation: Opération: Kenya



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
9,899 new births were registered
5,312 new arrivals were registered by the Refugee Affairs Secretariat
1,670 stateless Shona persons and 10 stateless persons of Rwandese descent were registered and accorded Kenyan citizenship
458 individuals were resettled
329 individuals were assisted to return to their countries of origin
2021 planning figures
502,921 refugees and asylum-seekers will receive protection and assistance
100% of people of concern will be registered on an individual basis
100% of people of concern will have access to primary health-care services
80% of refugees opting for voluntary repatriation will receive return packages
75% of school-age refugee children will be enrolled in early childhood, primary and secondary education

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 565,678
2019 508,247
2018 490,224


[["Refugees",452941],["Asylum-seekers",51917],["Stateless",16820],["Others of concern",44000]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[269.17496251,230.28834267599998,191.11337188,169.97106229,164.64758926,149.59591804],"expenditure":[124.33198299,121.04733519,102.55652278,99.94008417,92.45204595999999,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[268.67496278,229.378158795,190.63187567,169.41507253,164.12305225999998,149.01325304],"p2":[0.49999973,0.910183881,0.48149621000000004,0.55598976,0.524537,0.582665],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[124.06368063,120.55286739,102.17128776,99.70146201,92.23127441,null],"p2":[0.26830235999999996,0.4944678,0.38523502000000004,0.23862216,0.22077154999999998,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

In 2020, movement restrictions and lockdowns imposed by the Government had a severe socio-economic impact on both Kenyans and refugees’ livelihoods.

The long-pending Refugee Bill 2019 was not passed as the Government prioritised COVID-19 related legislation.

The Government endorsed a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework Action Plan in October 2020, which could potentially aid the eligibility process to secure a substantial allocation of World Bank resources under the IDA-19 financing Window for Host Communities and Refugees to support the implementation of the Government of Kenya’s Global Refugee Forum pledges.

Population trends

504,850 refugees and asylum-seekers as well as approximately 16,820 stateless persons were hosted in Kenya by year-end, with the refugee population increasing in 2020 by 3% as a result of new birth registrations and reactivations, as well as the relatively low number of new arrivals registered due to the COVID-19 movement restrictions (5,312). 2020 was also characterized by record low resettlement and voluntary repatriation numbers.
Some 16% (80,898) of the refugee population resided in urban areas, while 84% (423,956) lived in camps. 55% of the refugee population were children and 50% were women and girls.
Progress was made in resolving the double registration of refugees as Kenyans and Kenyan nationals registered as refugees. The first phase of the vetting exercise in early 2020 identified 11,357 Kenyans registered in Dadaab refugee camp.

Key achievements

  • UNHCR implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, resulting in very few fatalities (18) out of a population of over 500,000 refugees.
  • Progress was made in the final year of the 2018-2020 multi-year multi partner strategy, with UNHCR expanding its partnership with the National Health Insurance Fund for the registration of all health facilities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei as public facilities. Services provided are included in the county system and national health indicator reports.
  • The inclusion of refugees in the national education system progressed in 2020. The Ministry of Education was supported to develop a draft multi-year costed implementation plan, closely aligned with the National Education Sector Strategic Plan (2018-2022). The Ministry of Education also included refugees in the national education response for COVID-19.
  • Work on the Garissa Integrated Socioeconomic Development Plan gained momentum in the last quarter of 2020 and is expected to be launched by mid-2021.
  • Private sector engagement included the International Finance Corporation launching the Kalobeyei Challenge Fund, worth $25 million, including business development opportunities for traditional private sector and social enterprise.

Unmet needs

  • The reprioritization of resources to curb the spread of COVID-19 compromised the provision of certain regular services. Health staff for instance were directed to work in quarantine centers, leaving certain routine health services unattended. Malaria incidences increased with no adequate funding in place for the procurement of treated mosquito nets.
  • Appropriate intervention in mental health remained a big gap, resulting in inadequate psychosocial support. The outbreak of the pandemic which caused many refugees to lose livelihoods, coupled with dwindling resettlement opportunities and the increasing sense of hopelessness, resulted in the deterioration of mental health of people of concern, as evidenced by the increase in attempted and suicide cases.
  • The development projects in line with the Kalobeyei Integrated Socioeconomic Development Plan remained underfunded. This affected protection, assistance and commitments made to the Government of Kenya.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

23% of funding received in Kenya came from flexible sources.

These funds supported efforts to (1) curb the spread of COVID-19, (2) ensure protection and services for urban refugees and (3) advocate to prevent and reduce stateless.

Flexible funding ensured that UNHCR was able to continue supporting the Refugee Affairs Secretariat, building their capacity on registration, refugee status determination and management of refugee affairs. Additionally, support to 20,000 individuals to access public health services was provided through flexible funding.

Advocacy for stateless persons resulted in 1,670 Shona persons and 10 persons of Rwandan descent registered as Kenyan citizens. They now have equal access to all documents issued by the state as well as services on the same basis as other Kenyan nationals.

Working environment

The general political environment in Kenya remains stable. The government maintains an open-door policy for asylum and continues to increase their engagement in the delivery of protection services. However, refugees are still seen through a security lens, limiting their freedom of movement and exposing refugees to risk of arrest and detention if found outside of camps without proper authorization. Despite significant improvements in registration and RSD processes, the current RSD backlog of 50,000 individuals exposes them to protection risks due to their lack of documentation. UNHCR will continue to support work on the 2019 Refugee Bill and if passed in 2020, facilitate the development of regulations and training of government and stakeholders on the new Act.  In the meantime, the encampment policy remains as a challenge to achieving full socio-economic inclusion for refugees in Kenya.
In line with the Global Compact for Refugees, the government in coordination with UNHCR has strengthened its strategic positioning in the Turkana County to expand the protection space for refugees and promote solutions and responsibility-sharing through a Government-led area-based approach.  Refugees are included in the County Integrated Development Plan and are part of public participation in any draft legislation.
Refugees have access to public services in education, health-care and protection, provided by humanitarian actors and the government. In urban areas, refugees are enrolled in the National Health Insurance Fund and can access public health facilities. Urban refugee children also access free public early childhood and primary education and benefit from protection services provided by children’s departments including government safe spaces. The government has also availed additional security officers in the refugee camps.
UNHCR continues to forge partnerships with government, the private sector, civil society, development partners, UN agencies and others in line with the Global Compact for Refugees to facilitate the integration of services in the camps as well as the socio-economic inclusion of refugees and host communities within the county-led systems. Partnership with the County governments will be guided by the CRRF approach to ensure that refugees and host communities have access to basic services. Regionally, UNHCR will participate in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development work on durable solutions in the region and support the implementation of the National Action Plan for Somali refugees.
Under the leadership of the Resident Coordinators Office, participation in the 2018-2022 UNDAF including in coordination, implementation, monitoring and reporting will be a key priority.
The Office will support project implementation under the World Bank loans provided to the refugee hosting counties in order to ensure that the new funds complement the ongoing UNHCR programmes and support the aim of inclusion of refugees in the county level service provision. The implementation of the IFC Kakuma and Kalobeyei Challenge Fund is expected to spur economic growth through the private sector and support to local entrepreneurs.

Key priorities

  • Advocate for maintaining of the asylum space for people of concern, and support data management and documentation and inclusion of refugees in national registration systems.  
  • Increase refugee inclusion in national health and education services working closely with government line ministries
  • Promote livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities, through provision of access to training courses in accredited training facilities, supporting enterprise management and linkages between refugee businesses and local markets as well as expanding on current initiatives with the private sector to offer internship and apprenticeship opportunities to youths.
  • Support voluntary returns of Somali, Burundi and Ethiopian refugees in safety and dignity, through counselling and provision of reliable and up-to-date country of origin information, cash grants, core-relief items, transportation, and basic health screening, among others.
  • Advocate for legislation on stateless persons and the recognition of other nationalities.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors