The Star (Nairobi)

1 August 2012

Kenya: Refugees Have Right to Urban Life, Report Says

THERE is need to improve policy in the country to ensure recognition of refugees' rights to live in urban areas and access livelihood opportunities, a new report released yesterday has said.

Harassment, restrictive business regimes, prejudices and discriminative immigration rules were hampering efforts by asylum seekers to be self reliant, A Livelihood Status Report on Urban Refugees Living in Nairobi pointed out.

The report carried out by UN Refugee Agency and Danish Refugee Council on refugees living in Kayole, Eastleigh and Kitengela found out that asylum seekers were finding it difficult to find licenses to start up businesses. "The situation is worse for us women refugees, who are faced with sexual harassment and other abuses. It has hard for us to get jobs, as well have our children in schools because we don't have money and don't have the necessary documents like the birth certificates needed for new enrollment," Felista Mukamziliya a refugee from Rwanda said.

Sora Katelo, Commission for Refugee Affairs in the Ministry of Immigration challenged those seeking asylum in the country to get all the necessary documents. "Apart from Refugee Act, Kenya has now a new constitution with an expanded Bill of Rights which protects everyone, irrespective of his or her immigration status, including refugees, and whoever violates the Constitution should be apprehended," he said adding that Nairobi host over 50, 000 of the 600000 refugees residing in the country currently. To empower refugees for self-reliance, Katelo called on humanitarian organisations to cut down on their operation costs and increase funding that will be used to improve refugees' lives.

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