Kenya hosts 475 000 refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries who are fully dependent on humanitarian assistance for their basic needs. Voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya has continued, regardless of the insecurity, drought, and forced evictions in their home country. Consistent access to enough food and water remains patchy in pockets of the population. The European Union continues its long-standing assistance to refugees in Kenya and responds to disaster-related emergencies.
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 that refugees are mainly confined to camps and are almost entirely dependent on aid. Lack of funding has led to food ration cuts for many refugees. Since the beginning of 2018, around 5 470 Somalis have been assisted to voluntarily return to Somalia despite the insecurity and dearth of basic services in their home country.
Persistent unpredictable weather has brought about critical food shortages for millions of Kenyans. The short rainy season at the end of 2018 started late and was not sufficient across most of the country. As a result, for the first five months of 2019, food availability will suffer, especially in the dry and arid counties. In some areas, there are forecasts that the situation will be so strained that the affected communities will require assistance.
As a result of internal conflict in Ethiopia, since July 2018, over 55 000 people have crossed the border, into the town of Mandera in Kenya. Most of the displaced Ethiopians in Kenya have been taken in by the host community. While they have access to health centres and education, access to water remains a great concern. Where water is available, the resources are overstretched and could be depleted shortly if the displaced people do not return to their home country or if humanitarian assistance is not stepped up.
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 northern part of Kenya and the capacity of authorities to prepare for emergencies. Since 2012, the EU has provided more than €120 million in humanitarian aid in Kenya.
In 2018, the EU allocated €11.5 million in humanitarian funding to assist refugees in Kenya and communities living in arid areas to help them cope better with drought and flooding. Of the allocated funds, €1.5 million went to assist victims of floods across the country.
The EU, through its partners, currently supports displaced Ethiopians in the Mandera county by funding first-line emergency assistance to meet their basic needs for protection, healthcare, nutrition, water, and shelter.
In the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support the provision of basic life-saving services such as food assistance, healthcare, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection, and education. Funding also goes toward the registration system of newcomers and the overall running of the camps.
As a partial replacement to distribution of in-kind food rations, the EU funds electronic food vouchers called ‘Bamba Chakula’ (‘Get your food’ in Swahili). This system has been rolled out through the popular M-PESA mobile money transfer system. It gives refugees more options as they can choose which food to buy, thus diversifying their diet while helping the local economy.
EU support has helped the set-up of health facilities offering comprehensive services, including in-patient wards that cater to both refugee and host communities. Clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion are also given priority as they prevent illnesses in children. Efforts are made to ensure a safer environment in camps, especially for children and women who make up 79 percent of the population. This work is done through local committees tasked with overseeing the safety in their respective communities.
In addition, the EU contributes to the education of refugees and young people by offering learning opportunities for over 130 000 pupils enrolled in schools in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. A special learning programme has been devised for young people and adults whose education has been interrupted due to conflict.
At these same refugee camps, the EU supports humanitarian partners that care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and work with communities in the camps to prevent such violence from being perpetrated in the first place.