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Mar 20, 2017

County Representative UNHCR Mr. Raouf Mazou Discusses Refugee Camps and Settlements

The Strathmore Law Clinic, under Strathmore Law School, hosted Mr. Raouf Mazou - County Representative of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), for an interactive session on Refugee law and the challenges refugees face on 15th May 2017.

 

Mr. Mazou gave a brief history of the presence of refugees in Kenya noting that in the 80s, Kenya did not have refugee camps. The camps came into existence in the 90’s, and have had both positive and negative attributes since then. He elaborated on the fact that, refugee camps provide easier access to aid both the refugees and the humanitarian organizations volunteers. He however pointed out that there are various challenges that are brought about by the establishment and maintenance of these camps.

 

For instance, the policies put in place in refugee camps that prohibit them from working while living in the camps, brings about hopelessness among the youths in the camps due to their idle and jobless state at the camps. As a result, they become vulnerable targets for terrorist groups. Moreover, communities in the host countries feel estranged in that refugee camps receive aid that they themselves are in need. This therefore results in locals joining refugee camps, as refugees, in a bid to acquire the much needed help.

 

Mr. Mazou highlighted that refugees in camps often take longer to return to their host countries, opposed to those who were financially independent. The UNHCR is therefore looking into introducing a settlement scheme, as an alternative to refugee camps, which would enable refugees to be more financially independent as well as consequently benefit the host community economically. He mentioned the possibility of working together with investors and other stakeholders to help the refugees develop businesses or use their skills as this would help them attain financial freedom; linked to faster return to country of origin.

 

The talk attracted interesting questions from the students which touched on a variety of topics that included; the principle of non-refoulement and the legal framework concerning climate refugees. 

Contact Details

Madaraka Estate
Ole Sangale Road, PO Box 59857,
00200 City Square
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 0703-034000, 0703-034200

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