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2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Kenya

| Overview |

Working environment

  • The introduction of a community-policing approach under the Kenya Security Partnership Project (SPP) in the Dadaab area has brought about some improvements in an insecure and dangerous operational environment, although the overall security situation remains precarious. Relations and cooperation between the security services and the population have improved, and mobility within and around the camps for humanitarian workers has been made easier, though still requiring precautions. The Government of Kenya and UNHCR, together with partners and affected refugee and host communities, are committed to further consolidating and sustaining these improvements.

  • Kakuma camp, in Turkana County, is receiving record numbers of refugees for the second consecutive year. Over 14,000 new arrivals had registered as asylum-seekers by the end of August 2013, joining another 21,000 who arrived in 2012. In both years, the vast majority have been from South Sudan. With its total population approaching 125,000, Kakuma is overcrowded and additional land is urgently needed. UNHCR's top priorities in the camp are to respond to protection needs, and to provide adequate infrastructure and basic services for a growing population.

  • UNHCR's strategic partnership with the Government of Kenya focuses on supporting and strengthening the response capacity of local and national institutions; and jointly pursuing durable solutions for refugees, including potential return to Somalia. These two areas will also remain priorities in 2014.

  • In 2014-2015, UNHCR will continue to count on the hospitality and support extended to asylum-seekers and refugees by the Government and people of Kenya. This includes: the preservation of and access to asylum and international protection; effective reception, registration, documentation and refugee status determination (RSD); land for approximately 530,000 refugees and asylum-seekers across six camps located in Alinjugur, Dadaab, and Kakuma, with the hope of securing additional space in Kakuma; strengthened police presence in camps; access to public health services for over 50,000 urban refugees and medical referrals from the camps; and integration of some 8,000 urban-based refugee children and adolescents into local learning institutions.

People of concern

The three largest populations of concern planned for in 2014 under the Kenya operation are asylum-seekers and refugees from: South-Central Somalia (Alinjugur and Dadaab) due to insecurity and famine; South Sudanese due to inter-ethnic conflict and violence, especially in the Jonglei state (Kakuma); and Ethiopians as a result of human rights violations and conflict (Kakuma).

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Kenya
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total 625,250 604,700 600,910 579,790 602,520 581,820
Refugees Ethiopia 21,610 21,610 19,920 19,920 19,450 19,450
Somalia 482,390 482,390 442,170 442,170 428,440 428,440
South Sudan 14,200 14,200 14,230 14,230 14,680 14,680
Various 20,070 20,070 19,810 19,810 18,650 19,650
Asylum-seekers Dem. Rep. of the Congo 8,920 8,920 10,140 10,140 11,170 11,170
Ethiopia 11,110 11,110 11,670 11,670 12,130 12,130
South Sudan 29,090 29,090 39,800 39,800 48,570 48,570
Various 17,310 17,310 22,050 22,050 27,730 27,730
Internally displaced Kenya - - - - - -
Stateless people Stateless 20,550 - 21,120 - 21,700 -

| Response |

Needs and strategies

In 2014, the top priorities for the Kenya operation are to: preserve access to asylum and protection for asylum-seekers and refugees; continue the uninterrupted delivery of life-saving services in safety and security; provide housing, primary health care, water, sanitation, hygiene, and the basic infrastructure underpinning them; and support the achievement of durable solutions for those choosing to either voluntarily repatriate, seek resettlement in a third country or request an alternative residency status. UNHCR will also pursue its advocacy efforts on the prevention of statelessness among affected communities.

The Office's strategies to achieve these priorities will include: deepening technical and material support to governmental, non-governmental and community-based institutions at the national and local levels; adopting community-based approaches to maintaining law and order; promoting peaceful inter-communal relations; consolidating the Government's reception, registration, documentation, RSD and camp management capabilities; further strengthening community-based protection and management of basic services; implementing the joint global education strategy (UNHCR, UNICEF and the Government), which is adapted to the local context and contributes to child protection and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) responses and prevention; and enhancing durable solutions and livelihood opportunities upon return home.

To advance these goals, UNHCR will foster strategic partnerships with key institutions and service providers at national and local levels.

| Implementation |


UNHCR maintains strategic partnerships to ensure the effective protection of asylum-seekers and refugees in Kenya. The Office will continue close collaboration with key institutions in the executive, legislative and judiciary, as well as with the media sector, at national and local levels.

The Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government in the Office of the President and its Department of Refugee Affairs are UNHCR's primary Government counterparts in asylum and refugee management. Other key partners are UN agencies, international and national NGOs and the Kenya Red Cross Society. In the camps, WFP is the principal provider of food assistance, while in the areas of child protection, responses to SGBV, water and sanitation, nutrition and health, and education, UNICEF is a key partner.

2014 UNHCR partners in Kenya
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Department of Refugee Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government
NGOs: CARE International, Danish Refugee Council, Don Bosco - Kenya, FafiIntegrated Development Association, FilmAid International, Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Kenya, Jesuit Refugee Service, Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya Red Cross Society, Legal Advice Centre (Kituo Cha Sheria) - Kenya, Lutheran World Federation, National Council of Churches of Kenya, Norwegian Refugee Council, Peace Winds Japan, Refugee Consortium of Kenya, Relief Reconstruction and Development Organisation, Save the Children, Windle Trust UK in Kenya
Others: UNV
Operational partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government
NGOs: Action Against Hunger, Catholic Relief Services, Centre for Torture Victims - Kenya, Cooperazione e Sviluppo, GOAL, Handicap International, International Life Line Fund, International Service Volunteers Association, InterNews Star FM, Médecins sans Frontières - Suisse, Terres des Hommes, Women and Health Alliance, World Vision International
Others: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Agency for International Cooperation - GIZ), IOM, OCHA, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNDSS, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP

| Financial information |

Kenya's global displacement needs and UNHCR's financial requirements to respond to them have risen over recent years, from USD 185.7 million in 2010 to a revised 2013 budget of USD 251.6 million. This growth was driven primarily by successive influxes and the need to respond to emergencies.

In 2014, the financial requirements for UNHCR's operation in Kenya have decreased by USD 22.6 million to USD 229 million, when compared to the revised 2013 budget. This is primarily due to the Dadaab population verification, which revealed approximately 20 per cent fewer people than the 2009-2010 verification, owing to departures and demographic trends.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105

UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Kenya
Style of Address The UNHCR Country Representative in Kenya
Street Address P.O. BOX 43801 - 00100, LYNWOOD COURT, OFF WAIYAKI WAY, WESTLAND, NAIROBI, KENYA, Nairobi, Kenya
Mailing Address P.O. Box 43801-00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone 41 22 739 7280
Facsimile 41 22 739 7281
Time Zone GMT + 6
Working Hours
Monday:8:00 - 16:45
Tuesday:8:00 - 16:45
Wednesday:8:00 - 16:45
Thursday:8:00 - 16:45
Public Holidays 01 January 2014, New Year's Day
18 April 2014, Good Friday
21 April 2014, Easter Monday
01 May 2014, Labour Day
02 June 2014, Madaraka Day (observed)
28 July 2014, Eid-al-Fitr
03 October 2014, Eid-al-Adha (observed)
20 October 2014, Mashujaa Day
12 December 2014, Jamhuri Day
25 December 2014, Christmas Day
UNHCR Sub Office Dadaab
Style of Address Head of UNHCR Sub Office Dadaab
Street Address Head of UNHCR Sub Office Dadaab, Dadaab Humanitarian Compound (on southern side of Dada, (on southern side of Dadaab town on road from Garissa), Dadaab, Kenya
Mailing Address UNHCR Sub Office Dadaab,, c/o UNHCR Branch Office for Kenya, 35 Rhapta Road, Westlands,, P.O. Box 43801, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone 41 22 739 7562
Facsimile 41 22 739 7563
Time Zone GMT + 3
Working Hours
Monday:08:00 - 17:30
Tuesday:08:00 - 17:30
Wednesday:08:00 - 17:30
Thursday:08:00 - 17:30
Public Holidays 01 January 2014, New Year's Day
18 April 2014, Good Friday
21 April 2014, Easter Monday
01 May 2014, Labour Day
02 June 2014, Madaraka Day (observed)
28 July 2014, Eid-al-Fitr
03 October 2014, Eid-al-Adha (observed)
20 October 2014, Mashujaa Day
12 December 2014, Jamhuri Day
25 December 2014, Christmas Day


Statistical Snapshot*
* As at January 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Kenya [1]
Refugees [2] 534,938
Asylum Seekers [3] 52,285
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 20,000
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 607,223
Originating from Kenya [1]
Refugees [2] 8,589
Asylum Seekers [3] 2,156
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 10,745

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Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Dire Times in Dadaab

Angelina Jolie's visit to Dadaab in north-east Kenya puts a spotlight on the overcrowded camp complex, home to tens of thousands of refugees.

When UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie visited Dadaab in north-east Kenya on September 12, 2009, she saw first-hand some of the tough conditions that tens of thousands of refugees must live in. The overcrowded three-camp complex is home to more than 285,000 mainly Somali refugees, making it the largest refugee settlement in the world. The camps were established in the early 1990s and were intended for a maximum of 90,000 people. Up to 7,000 people are now arriving every month to escape continuing conflict in Somalia. Jolie talked to residents about their daily life and their exile. These images show her meetings with the refugees of Dadaab and show some of the conditions they live in. Aside from overcrowding, they face water shortages, crammed classrooms, health problems, the coming rainy season and a range of other difficulties. UNHCR hopes new land will be allocated soon for the new arrivals.

Dire Times in Dadaab

Climate change and displacement

In the past few years, millions of people have been displaced by natural disasters, most of which are considered to be the direct result of climate change. Sudden weather events, such as Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis in 2008, widespread flooding in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camps in 2006 and the drought that hit Ethiopia in the 1980s, can leave huge numbers of people traumatized and without access to shelter, clean water and basic supplies.

The international community has entrusted UNHCR with responsibility for protecting and assisting people who are forcibly displaced and who cannot return safely home. Although the majority of people displaced by climate change will remain within their own borders, where states have clearly defined responsibilities, additional support may be required.

When called upon to intervene, UNHCR can deploy emergency teams and provide concrete support in terms of registration, documentation, family reunification and the provision of shelter, basic hygiene and nutrition.

Among those who are displaced across borders as a result of climate change, some will be refugees while others may not meet the definition. Nevertheless, many may be in need of protection and assistance.

Climate change and displacement

Running out of space: Somali refugees in Kenya

The three camps at Dadaab, which were designed for 90,000 people, now have a population of about 250,000 Somali civilians, making it one of the world's largest and most congested refugee sites. UNHCR fears tens of thousands more will arrive throughout 2009 in this remote corner of north-east Kenya as the situation in their troubled country deteriorates further.

Resources, such as food and water, have been stretched dangerously thin in the overcrowded camps, with sometimes 400 families sharing one tap. There is no room to erect additional tents and the new arrivals are forced to share already crowded shelters with other refugees.

In early 2009, the Kenyan government agreed to allocate more land at Dadaab to accommodate some 50,000 refugees. View photos showing conditions in Dadaab in December 2008.

Running out of space: Somali refugees in Kenya

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

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

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

Kenya: A Lifetime of WaitingPlay video

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.

Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.

Kenya: Hawa's Dilemma Play video

Kenya: Hawa's Dilemma

When Hawa was a child, her father was murdered by rebels and her mother was kidnapped. Later Hawa was jailed and raped. When she was released, she fled to Kenya, where she now lives as a refugee. No one chooses to be a refugee.
Kenya: A Helping HandPlay video

Kenya: A Helping Hand

Heightened insecurity in the world's largest refugee camp has brought about a change among the refugee communities.
Kenya: Dadaab – Twenty Years OnPlay video

Kenya: Dadaab – Twenty Years On

The world's largest refugee camp is now the size of a small city, home to almost 500,000 refugees.
Kenya: In Need of ProtectionPlay video

Kenya: In Need of Protection

The legacy of Sudan's civil war haunts many refugees. In Kakuma camp some need special protection to ensure their safety.
Suad's StoryPlay video

Suad's Story

Suad, a student and teacher in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, tells how she's using technology to become self-sufficient and what this means for her family and community.
Kenya: Nubians in KiberaPlay video

Kenya: Nubians in Kibera

The Nubians came to Kenya from Sudan more than a century ago to fight for the British. After independence, many became stateless.
Kenya: New HomesPlay video

Kenya: New Homes

Thousands of Somali refugees journey to a new home as UNHCR opens a camp in Kenya.
Kenya: Refugee WomenPlay video

Kenya: Refugee Women

The long trek to safety in Kenya has been particularly hard for Somali mothers like Mariane, who was pregnant, and Fatuma, who lost her baby son en route.
Kenya: Camp ExtensionPlay video

Kenya: Camp Extension

To cope with the growing numbers of Somali refugees arriving at Dadaab in northern Kenya, UNHCR has begun moving people into a new area called the Ifo Extension.
Somalia: Fleeing FaminePlay video

Somalia: Fleeing Famine

Tukaay is one of the nearly 1.5 million internally displaced Somalis struggling with drought and conflict.
Kenya: Somalis in DadaabPlay video

Kenya: Somalis in Dadaab

They lived through decades of conflict but drought was the final straw, say Somalis who fled their homes for Kenya's Dadaab camp.
Kenya : Somali exodus to KenyaPlay video

Kenya : Somali exodus to Kenya

The world's largest refugee complex at Dadaab in north-east Kenya is growing steadily as a fresh wave of Somali civilians flee their country to escape drought or conflict.
Kenya: Voting for a New Future Play video

Kenya: Voting for a New Future

Southern Sudanese living in Nairobi vote in the referendum for independence.
Sudanese Vote in Kenyan ExilePlay video

Sudanese Vote in Kenyan Exile

Refugees in Kenya may have missed election day in South Sudan. But that did not stop them voting.
Kenya: Solar Success StoryPlay video

Kenya: Solar Success Story

UNHCR chief António Guterres is impressed by a green energy programme, supported by Portuguese energy company EDP, that is helping refugees in Kenya's Kakuma camp.
Kenya: Deck's DreamPlay video

Kenya: Deck's Dream

Deck has lived in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp for most of his life. The young Somali hopes that hard study will help him to a better future as a lawyer.
Dadaab: Easing the CrunchPlay video

Dadaab: Easing the Crunch

The crowded refugee complex at Dadaab in Kenya has been struggling to cope with new arrivals from Somalia. But the pressure will ease with an expansion planned.
Aid to Displaced KenyansPlay video

Aid to Displaced Kenyans

After weeks of bloody post-election clashes in Kenya, relative calm has returned to most parts of the country. The violence forced more than 250,000 Kenyans from their homes and thousands fled to Uganda.
Somali Refugees: Camps In CrisisPlay video

Somali Refugees: Camps In Crisis

UNHCR faces a major challenge in finding solutions for newly arrived Somalia refugees in Kenya.
UN High Commissioner Visits Somalis in KenyaPlay video

UN High Commissioner Visits Somalis in Kenya

In a visit to the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp on the Kenya-Somalia border in advance of World Refugee Day on Friday, the UN refugee agency chief, António Guterres said a political solution must be found to end the violence in Somalia and he acknowledged that UNHCR had to do more to help those uprooted by the 17-year conflict. Dadaab hosts 200,000 refugees with 20,000 new arrivals from Somali since January.