On 20 June, IOM joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Refugee Day during an auspicious national event which was marked with pomp and colour at the University of Nairobi grounds.
This year’s theme which was marked under the theme, #withrefugees was graced by key dignitaries among them, Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joseph Nkaiseery who called upon the international community to support the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes countries in tackling root causes of conflict bedevilling the region.
He also called on the international community to actively support refugee hosting countries in order to lessen their burden by improving the livelihoods of both refugees and host communities.
“The International community can also offer support in solving conflicts peacefully and the reconstruction of countries emerging from conflict so as to create conditions favourable for refugees to return,” he added.
While delivering his key note address, British High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey, thanked the Kenyan Government for hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees over the years and hailed the Kenyan Parliament for passing the enhanced refugee bill this year.
“Let me say, thank you on behalf of the international community for your hosting of refugees. Let me recognize and appreciate the work that the Kenyan parliament has done for passing the refugee bill which protects the space of asylum and maintains civil rights of refugees,” he said.
The day was marked by cultural performances by refugees who staged lively traditional dances that enthralled the audience through their own moving testimonials.
In attendance was the IOM Head of Kenya Country Office, Mr. Michael Pillinger, among other senior UN officials and envoys. Kenya is home to close than 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries, the majority being from Somalia and South Sudan.
Over eighty percent of the current refugee population in Kenya comprise women, children and youth, who live in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, as well as urban settings across the country.