UNHCR Conducts Joint Verification of Refugees with the Government of Kenya
The verification exercise will allow the Government and UNHCR to collect accurate and updated information of all Persons of Concern.
Nairobi, Kenya – Verification is a registration exercise to have updated information on the population of refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Registration is a fundamental component of international protection. The exercise was initiated by the government of Kenya and it is supported by UNHCR.
“I did not know about this exercise. My friend took me to UNHCR offices to get assistance after he was unable to continue paying for my medical bills. That is how I knew about the verification exercise,” explained Ahmed Ahmed, a Somali refugee residing in Nairobi. “I came in the morning, I was verified and I applied for an Alien Card. I only had a Mandate which was issued by UNHCR.”
Ahmed fled from Somalia in 1990 and has been living in Kenya ever since. He is one of the 47,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have been verified in Nairobi by the government of Kenya and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, during the verification exercise.
Elshaday Tamine and her family are asylum seekers from Ethiopia. They have been living in Nairobi since 2015. Elshaday and her husband were first verified in November 2016 when the exercise kicked off in Nairobi. Three months later, Elshaday and her husband returned to the verification site to register their new born baby. They obtained Proof of Registration, a document issued to asylum seekers by the government of Kenya.
“I have the documents, I have everything, I am so happy,” said 23-year old Elshaday from Ethiopia after her family was verified.
According to the Government’s representative Festus Chai, the exercise has been successful so far. “There was a large turnout. At least refugees turned out. We now have quite a good number registered with us.” He said. “The government found there was need to know the actual number of refugees in the country. This will help us in planning.”
“The government found there was need to know the actual number of refugees in the country.”
The verification exercise will allow the Government and UNHCR to collect accurate and updated information of all Persons of Concern and their family members. This information is necessary for the Government and UNHCR to adequately plan the delivery of all services, to implement effective protection activities and provide meaningful support.
“We had a big number as we started the exercise, whereby we were able to be verifying on average 1500 people per day,” said Vincent Ng’etich from UNHCR Registration Unit.
“This exercise is being conducted in Nairobi for the very first time and it is about ascertaining the total number of refugees in urban areas and also to enable us enroll our persons of concern to the new Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS). We are moving away from bio registrator to a global biometric system.” Added Vincent about the process.
“I am very happy. I did not know about the services offered by UNHCR before coming here for verification.”
Other than verification, UNHCR and partners have set up desks for protection cases that are flagged during the exercise. They include the litigation desk, refugee status determination desk, child protection and a desk for persons with specific needs (PSN).
“I am very happy. I did not know about the services offered by UNHCR before coming here for verification. I had suffered a lot and through this exercise I have been assisted. I will see the doctor before I leave,” said Ahmed whose case was flagged and referred to the PSN desk by the verification clerks where he was assisted to get the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) medical card to enable him access health care.
The verification exercise started in Dadaab camps from 4 July to 10 August 2016 and was conducted jointly by UNHCR and the Government of Kenya specifically the National Registration Bureau (NRB), the Deputy County Commissioner and the Refugee Affairs Secretariat. Out of 341,574 individuals registered in the Dadaab camps, 283,558 individuals were verified as being physically present in the camps at the time.
The official verification report, after data clean-up, showed that the population of asylum seekers and refugees stood at 154,947 individuals in Kakuma, inclusive of those at Kalobeyei settlement. Of the verified population 84,983 (54.8%) were from South Sudan. The exercise was conducted between September and December 2016 in both Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Settlement.
The exercise will also be carried out in other urban areas starting with Mombasa followed by other towns such as Bungoma, Eldoret, Isiolo, Kitale, Malindi, Meru and Nakuru through mobile teams.
After the exercise, the government and UNHCR will inactivate the records of persons who do not show up for the verification without any valid reasons.