UNHCR senior officials visit Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Settlement to assess current support for refugees and host communities.

“There is a need to engage more with the private sector,” UNHCR’s Senior Advisor, Private Sector Partnerships, HRH Prince Jaime de Bourbon.

Prince-Jamie-is-introduced-to-refugee-footballers-competing-in-the-Kakuma-Premiere-League. ©UNHCR/Samuel Odhiambo

UNHCR’s Director of the Division of Resilience and Solutions (DRS), Daniel Endres  and the recently appointed Senior Advisor, Private Sector Partnerships, HRH Prince Jaime de Bourbon of the Netherlands, have visited Kakuma Refugee Camp and the Kalobeyei Settlement in Turkana. The purpose of the visit was to meet refugees, government officials, the private sector, and UNHCRs partners to assess the current support for refugees, and discuss opportunities to provide solutions for refugee and host communities.

The Division for Resilience and Solutions was recently set up within UNHCR to focus the organisation’s attention on the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. https://www.unhcr.org/towards-a-global-compact-on-refugees.html Prince Jaime is working on engaging the private sector to support refugees and host communities.

Both the Director and the Prince Jaime met with and spent time interacting with refugee leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs and the youth. They met traders at Kalobeyei Village 1, mothers at the Kalobeyei Health Centre maternity wing, which offers free maternal health care to both refugees and the local community. They also visited the ‘cash for shelter’ in Kalobeyei village where refugees are given cash to build their own shelter.

Innocent Havyarimana was one of the refugees the two interacted with. Innocent fled to Kakuma in 2013 and has been a refugee ever since. Innocent showed the Director and Prince Jaime how he had used his skills to start a soap making business in Kakuma. The business has been such a success, that Kenya’s Bureau of Standards recently endorsed the product for sale nationwide.

“I am really glad about this visit. It is important to show people that refugees want to work and want to do business. That we have important skills and abilities that can help people here and everywhere.”

The Director and Prince Jaime also met with the Turkana County Deputy County Governor, H.E Hon Peter Emuria Lotethiro, and the Deputy Speaker of the County Assembly, Turkana County, Hon. Mike Ewoi, where they were briefed on the progress made by the County Government of Turkana in hosting refugees, including the inclusion of refugees in the County Integrated Development Plan.

“As an assembly, we want to make it a practice…to include the refugee community in decision making through public participation.”

“As an assembly, we want to make it a practice that for any document, be it the county development plan, the county integrated development plan, the finance bill or any other legislation that affects populations in the county, to include the refugee community in decision making through public participation,” said the Deputy Speaker of the Turkana County Assembly, Hon. Michael Ewoi.

Mr Enders and Prince Jaime met with and thanked government officials for having hosted refugees in the region for many decades. And acknowledged the need for more support for local communities.

“Kenya has been very generous in hosting refugees and is setting an example to the world on socio-economic integration of refugees”, said the Director.

Prince Jaime said he saw good opportunities for the private sector to work with refugees and the communities that host them, demonstrated by the entrepreneurialism on display during the visit.

“Humanitarian funds are no longer adequate to cope with the growing population of refugees and displaced people.”

“There is a need to engage more with the private sector” Prince Jaime said.

On 19 September 2016, all 193 Member States of the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and its Annex I, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).  The following day, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, the Government of Kenya committed to, among others: enhance refugees’ self-reliance and inclusion in Kenya, specifically by pledging to support the development of the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement to benefit refugees and residents of Turkana County. Currently, there are over 186,000 refugees and asylum seekers hosted in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement out of which 57.9% are refugees from South Sudan.