Optimism and Hope as Refugees Relocate to Kalobeyei Settlement
The overall objective of this initiative is to re-orient the refugee assistance program to contribute to improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the refugees and host communities.
Akech, 11 year old South Sudanese, poses for a photo after arriving in Kalobeyei settlement. ; UNHCR, IOM, and RAS are jointly working to relocate all non-Somali refugees from Dadaab to Kalobeyei settlement pending the closure of the Dadaab refugee complex.
Kalobeyei, Kakuma, Kenya – 11-year-old Akech, is among the first non-Somali refugees to be relocated from Dadaab to Kalobeyei this year. She is from the Gambella community from Ethiopia and has been previously living in Ifo camp in the Dadaab complex.
Her conspicuous yellow doll makes hers stand out from other kids as she alights from IOM hired bus. She was a class 4 student at Friend’s Primary School in Dadaab before being relocated and is hopeful to continue with her education here in Kalobeyei.
Akech and her mother are among the 1,400 non-Somali refugees who are to be relocated from Dadaab to Kalobeyei settlement in January 2017. The relocation exercise that is jointly conducted by the UN Refugee agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Kenya through the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) will see all non-Somali refugees from Dadaab relocated to Kalobeyei by mid-2017. This is after the Government of Kenya issued a notice to close down the Dadaab refugee camp.
“I left my best friends Maria and Basel in Dadaab but I am hopeful to be reunited with them this week,” she says. Holding on to her yellow doll, perhaps the only friend she has on her first day at her new home.
Upon arrival, the relocates are transported by road from the Kakuma airstrip to Kalobeyei settlement where they are taken to the WFP’s integrated market. At the integrated market, the refugees are allowed some time to shop for their food supplies using the electronic food voucher from the World Food Programme (WFP). Refugees living in Kalobeyei will not receive the normal food ration instead they will receive 100% of their monthly food ration as a voucher giving them more variety of food to choose from.
Kalobeyei is not a refugee camp but an integrated community
Addressing the relocates at Kalobeyei, the Kakuma Head of Office, Honorine Sommet-Lange assured refugees of UNHCR’s continued assistance and protection while at Kalobeyei Settlement. “Kalobeyei is not a refugee camp but an integrated community where the refugee and the host community live in harmony, do business, attend school together, and have access to services being offered by UNHCR through its implementing partners,” said Honorine.
In June 2015, the Turkana County Government allocated about 1,500 hectares of land for a new refugee settlement near Kalobeyei Township. UNHCR and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government agreed with the Turkana County Government to develop a settlement that would promote the self-reliance of refugees and host communities by providing them with better livelihood opportunities and enhanced service delivery. In collaboration with the World Bank, UNHCR is currently developing the Kalobeyei Integrated Social and Economic Development Programme (KISEDP), a multi-agency collaboration to develop the local economy and service delivery at Kalobeyei.
The overall objective of this initiative is to re-orient the refugee assistance program to contribute to improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the refugees and host communities, better prepare the host community to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities in upcoming extraction and potential irrigation-fed agriculture and reduce over-dependence on humanitarian aid and support the refugees to achieve durable solutions.
Thus far, the construction of a clinic, a primary school, a police station and the main road has been completed. The construction of a second secondary school, clinic, a second primary school and a 12Km water pipeline (5Km of the pipeline is within the settlement) is ongoing. As a temporary measure, UNHCR through its partners has constructed a temporary clinic and a temporary school that will ensure refugees get access to basic services. A temporary market has also been put up at the World Food Programme’s compound where both refugee and host community traders run shops that provide the refugee and host community with fresh food.
Akech, who wants to be an engineer, will soon join over 5,500 pupils already enrolled for primary education at Kalobeyei settlement.