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Top Kenyan university opens campus next to world's largest refugee camp

News Stories, 10 October 2012

Refugees take part in the opening ceremony for the new Kenyatta University campus in Dadaab.

DADAAB, Kenya, October 10 (UNHCR) Nairobi's Kenyatta University has opened a campus in the north-east town of Dadaab and courses will be open to Kenyan citizens and refugees living in the nearby refugee complex, the world's biggest with almost half-a-million people.

UNHCR officials working in Dadaab attended the formal opening on Tuesday of the tertiary education facility, which will welcome its first students in January for diploma, undergraduate and master's courses in subjects such as finance, marketing, project management, education, public administration, community mobilization, peace and conflict studies.

The campus, the latest of several opened by Kenyatta University in Nairobi and other towns, will benefit both refugees and Kenyans living in North Eastern Province. It was built on an empty site in Dadaab town.

"This is a big leap forwards, it is a win-win situation a win for Kenya and a win for the refugees," said Dominik Bartsch, head of UNHCR's operations in Dadaab. Kenyatta University's official web site says that one of its visions is to "be a centre of excellence in refugee education" and adds that it aims to "empower the refugees through tertiary education, capacity building and research so as to effectively prepare them for post conflict arbitration/mediation and reintegration."

Bartsch said the opening of the Dadaab campus would "serve as an incentive for refugee children to complete school and proceed to obtain higher qualifications." He also pointed out that a university degree would allow refugees to make a contribution to Kenyan society and they could also help rebuild their country once peace returned. Most of the refugees in Dadaab are from Somalia.

Courses offered at the university will directly benefit the education sector in the refugee camps through diploma courses on topics such as school management and early childhood education.




UNHCR country pages

Dadaab: World's Biggest Refugee Camp Turns 20

Last year, 2011, was the 20th anniversary of the world's biggest refugee camp - Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya. The anniversary is a reminder of the suffering of the Somali people, who have been seeking safety and shelter for two decades. UNHCR, which manages the Dadaab complex, set up the first camps there between October 1991 and June 1992. This followed a civil war in Somalia that in 1991 had culminated in the fall of Mogadishu and overthrow of the Siad Barre regime.

The original intention was for the three Dadaab camps to host up to 90,000 people. However today they host more than 463,000 people, including some 10,000 third-generation refugees born in Dadaab to parents who were also born there.

Last year's famine in Somalia saw more than 150,000 new arrivals, a third of the camp's current population. Overcrowding and stretched resources as well as security concerns have all had an impact on the camp, but UNHCR continues to provide life-saving assistance.

Dadaab: World's Biggest Refugee Camp Turns 20

The Nubians in Kenya

In the late 1880s, Nubians from Sudan were conscripted into the British army. The authorities induced them to stay in Kenya by granting them homesteads and issuing them British colonial passports. The Nubians named their settlement near Nairobi, Kibra, or "land of forest." In 1917, the British government formally declared the land a permanent settlement of the Nubians. Since independence, Kenyan Nubians have had difficulty getting access to ID cards, employment and higher education and have been limited in their travel. In recent years, a more flexible approach by the authorities has helped ease some of these restric¬tions and most adult Nubians have been confirmed as Kenyan citizens, but children still face problems in acquiring Kenyan citizenship.

The Nubians in Kenya

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

The UN refugee agency has moved 4,700 Somali refugees from the outskirts of Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex into the Ifo Extension site since 25 July 2011. The ongoing relocation movement is transferring 1,500 people a day and the pace will soon increase to 2,500 to 3,000 people per day.

The refugees had arrived in recent weeks and months after fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia. They settled spontaneously on the edge of Ifo camp, one of three existing camps in the Dadaab complex, that has been overwhelmed by the steadily growing influx of refugees.

The new Ifo Extension site will provide tented accommodation to 90,000 refugees in the coming months. Latrines and water reservoirs have been constructed and are already in use by the families that have moved to this site.

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

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Return to Somalia

Ali and his family are ready to return to Somalia after living in Dadaab refugee camp for the past five years. We follow their journey from packing up their home in the camp to settling into their new life back in Somalia.
Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee CampPlay video

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee Camp

Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres completed a visit to Kenya and Somalia where he met with the Presidents of the two countries, as well as Somali refugees and returnees.
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Kenya: A Lifetime of Waiting

Sarah was born and raised in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Now 21, she has become a wife and mother without ever setting foot outside the camp.