UN High Commissioner for Refugees Maiden Visit to Kakuma

This is a new way of working for UNHCR. The partnerships with development partners is the way forward, it is a new approach intended to encourage self-reliance of both refugees and host community, boost the local economy, and also prepare refugees for sustainable returns, once conditions in their countries of origin allows

Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi visited Kakuma Refugee camp accompanied by Regional Director of the Bureau for Africa, Mr. Valentin Tapsoba, Turkana County Governor Hon. Josphat Nanok, MP Turkana West Hon. Daniel Nanok, UNHCR Country Representative Raouf Mazou and UNHCR staff.

The High Commissioner visited Morneau Shepell Girls School, one of the 5 secondary school in Kakuma. The High Commissioner toured the ICT Lab and he was impressed by the girls’ use of innovation. Morneau Shepell is an all-girls boarding school which was designed to offer a safe learning environment for girls who have specific protection concerns.

The High Commissioner also visited Kalobeyei Settlement, where 77 families from South Sudan had just been resettled, to observe the activities at the site. He got a briefing on developments and met the new arrivals. He thanked all the partners who have been involved in making the project a success.

“This is a new way of working for UNHCR. The partnerships with development partners is the way forward, it is a new approach intended to encourage self-reliance of both refugees and host community, boost the local economy, and also prepare refugees for sustainable returns, once conditions in their countries of origin allows,” he said. He thanked the host community and the Governor of Turkana for their generosity and for coexisting peacefully with the refugees.

Mr. Filippo Grandi, Turkana County Governor Hon. Josphat Nanok and a member of the host community at Kalobeyei. Photo UNHCR/M.Ndubi

During the meeting with UNHCR Staff in Kakuma, Mr. Grandi pointed out that Kakuma was a challenging operation because of the constant emergencies in South Sudan which the operation has to deal with. “I will use this visit to appeal for more international attention,” he said. He further encouraged staff to put concerted efforts towards the development of the new settlement in Kalobeyei, which is in line with new thinking around the refugee assistance model.

The Governor, Mr. Nanok reiterated the County’s commitment to continue working with UNHCR partners in Kakuma during the meeting with UNHCR implementing partners. The 26 UNHCR partners briefed the High Commissioner about their achievements so far and the challenges they are facing because of the increasing number of beneficiaries.

While meeting with the refugee leaders, both young and old, at the Don Bosco hall in Kakuma 1, the High Commissioner was awestruck by the existing systems of leadership in the camp whereby the refugee leaders were democratically elected. He took the time to listen to their concerns and stated that the visit will inform his call on the leadership of their countries of origin and the international community to redouble their efforts to restore peace in those countries.

Kakuma camp is currently hosting 192,218 refugees, 100,657 of whom are from South Sudan.