11 October 2017

Kenya: Distressed Exiles in Kenya Considering Suicide

Nairobi — A high number of refugees in Kenya are facing are suffering mental health problems and have contemplated suicide. This is according to a mental health survey of refugee and host communities in and around the Kakuma refugee camp north of the country. The Centre for Victims of Torture (CVT) collected information from 239 recently-arrived refugees and 84 members of the host community around Kakuma. Results indicated 48 percent of refugee respondents and 43 percent of host community respondents reported that mental health problems interfered with their daily functioning and activities. Some 32 percent of refugees and 23 percent of the host community reported recent suicidal thoughts. In addition, 33 percent of host community reported that illness, health or disability issues caused the greatest amount of stress, while 22 percent of refugees reported that hopelessness and uncertainty about the future is their greatest stressor. "The findings of this and subsequent surveys are invaluable for identifying areas where critical needs are going unmet and how that is making an impact on daily life," said Shannon Golden, CVT research head. CVT's representative survey was conducted over several weeks in November 2016. Kakuma camp has a population of 184 945 registered refugees and asylum-seekers as at September 30. With an influx of new arrivals since 2014, Kakuma surpassed its capacity by over 58 000 individuals, leading to congestion in various sections. Opened in 1992, the camp houses refuges from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudam among other countries.

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