Kenya hosts 470 000 refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries who are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance to cover their basic needs. Voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees has continued, in spite of insecurity, drought, and forced evictions in their home country. The European Commission continues its long-standing assistance to refugees in Kenya and responds to disaster-related emergencies.
Increasingly unpredictable weather means food insecurity for millions of Kenyans. Despite the long rainy season, 700 000 people continue to face critical food shortages. Heavy rains from March to April of this year caused massive flooding in 40 out of the country’s 47 counties and led to the displacement of over 320 000 people and 197 deaths. With the onslaught of rain, rivers and dams overflowed, destroying cropland, food stocks, houses and other infrastructure.
Nationwide, 556 000 children and pregnant or breastfeeding women are malnourished. 100 000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and require life-saving treatment. Meanwhile, cholera remains a major public health concern, with active outbreaks in seven counties. Since January 2018, more than 5 400 cases and 77 deaths have been recorded. Four counties also reported an active outbreak of Rift Valley Fever.
Kenya hosts nearly half a million refugees and asylum seekers mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, and the Great Lakes region. Kenya has an encampment policy meaning refugees are mainly confined to camps and almost entirely dependent on aid. Lack of funding has led to food ration cuts for many refugees. Since the beginning of 2018, about 5 470 Somalis have been assisted to voluntarily return to Somalia despite insecurity and lack of basic services back home.
Over the years, the European Union has maintained its humanitarian support for refugee operations in Kenya, while also focusing on building the resilience of communities in the arid north and the capacity of authorities to prepare for emergencies.
In 2018, the EU has allocated €11.5 million in humanitarian funding to assist refugees in Kenya, and communities living in arid areas to cope better with drought and flooding. Of the allocated funds, €1.5 million was to assist flooding victims across the country. The EU has provided over €120 million in humanitarian funding to Kenya since 2012.
In Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support basic life-saving services such as food assistance, health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, and education. Funding also allows for the registration of newcomers and the overall running of the camps.
The EU funds electronic food vouchers that replace part of the refugees’ food rations. A programme dubbed Bamba Chakula (‘Get your food” in Swahili) has been rolled out through the popular M-PESA mobile money transfer system. This programme provides refugees with more options as they can choose which food to buy, thus diversifying their diet while helping the local economy.
EU-support has helped to set up health facilities with comprehensive services, including in-patient wards, and cater to both the refugee and host population. Clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion are also given priority as they are vital and prevent children from getting sick and malnourished. Efforts are made to ensure that the environment in the camps is made safer, especially for children and women who make up 79% of the population, through local committees tasked with ensuring the safety of their local communities.
The EU contributes to the education of refugees and young people by offering learning opportunities for over 130 000 pupils enrolled in schools in Dadaab and Kakuma camps. A special learning programme was devised for young people and adults whose education was interrupted due to conflict.
In the refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma, the EU also supports humanitarian partners to care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and to work with communities in the camps to prevent such violence.