Who is eligible for resettlement?

In order for refugees to be considered for resettlement, they have to meet certain criteria.

  • They must be recognised as refugees by UNHCR/Government of Kenya
  • They must not be able to return voluntarily to their country of origin or integrate in their country of asylum
  • They must fit into one of the seven resettlement categories which are: woman and girls at risk, legal and/or physical protection needs, survivors of torture and/or violence, medical needs, lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions, family reunification and children and adolescents at risk.

For more explanation on the individual categories, UNHCR has published a detailed handbook on Resettlement which is available here.

How are refugees identified for resettlement in Kenya?

Even if a refugee meets the above criteria, resettlement is not guaranteed. Refugees are identified based on levels of vulnerability and UNHCR aims to identify the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement. In addition, resettlement countries have their own criteria about which categories of people they accept and this too plays a part in the identification procedure.

In Kenya UNHCR relies almost entirely on referrals from other UNHCR units or from partner NGOs including Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK), Kituo Cha Sheria, RefugePoint, HIAS, Heshima Kenya, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Danish Refugee Council (DRC). All identification of cases corresponds with the above criteria and focusses on cases that have acute protection needs which can be addressed through relocation to a third country.

What happens once a case is identified for resettlement?

Once a case if referred to UNHCR’s resettlement unit, it will undergo a Phase 1 verification interview and a Phase 2 resettlement interview. The Phase 1 interview is to ensure that the family composition is up to date and that there are no related pending issues. If there are, case processing will be on hold until the pending issues are resolved. For those cases that do not need follow up, the individuals and (if applicable) their family will be called for a Phase 2 interview once there are interview slots available. This is the final resettlement interview with UNHCR. Once this is completed and the case has been written and reviewed, it is forwarded to the resettlement country for processing. It is important to note that cases can also be rejected at any point during the resettlement process, including during Phase 1 and Phase 2 interviews. If a case is rejected by UNHCR, the applicant(s) will be called to the office and informed of the decision verbally and in writing.

What happens once a case is submitted for resettlement to a third country?

Depending on the country where the case is submitted to, processing procedures and timescales vary. In general, a family or individual in the resettlement pipeline should expect to wait for one year or more to leave Kenya. Cases with urgent protection needs are normally processed within one year. Within this time, families and individuals being considered for resettlement will need to attend additional interviews with resettlement country government agencies, undergo security and background checks, and take a series of medical tests prior to departure. Specific details will be provided to the individuals and families by the relevant resettlement country.

If a case is rejected at this stage in the process, the individuals will be notified in writing and, depending on the country, they may have a possibility to appeal the rejection. UNHCR is available to assist with this. If a case is accepted by the resettlement country and all medical and security checks are satisfactory, the individual(s) will depart to the resettlement country: the new country of permanent residence.

What happens when refugees arrive in the resettlement country?

In the resettlement country, they will be assisted upon arrival either by an NGO or by a government agency tasked with meeting their immediate needs. Resettled refugees will be briefed on where to live, how to obtain documentation, how to find a job, where they can send their children to school and other issues related to their arrival in the country of resettlement. The aim of the initial assistance is to help resettled refugees become self-sufficient as soon as possible.

Do refugees have to pay for resettlement?

Refugees should not pay anyone for any resettlement related services. All services provided by UNHCR and other government and non-government organizations working with refugees in the urban areas and camps are FREE OF CHARGE. UNHCR has to be notified if anyone tries to charge refugees for resettlement services.

What is UNHCR doing about fraud?

Any refugee who attempts to commit fraud relating to his or her resettlement application may be permanently disqualified from resettlement under UNHCR auspices. Examples of such fraud would include: supplying false information about their background; adding false information to make their case seem more serious; claiming a false identity or attempting to substitute themselves for another person; attempting to add a person onto their case who is not a genuine member of their family; charging money to other refugees for resettlement services. Anyone aware of fraud committed by another refugee, or of corruption committed by a staff member of UNHCR or other office or organization working in Nairobi and other areas, should report this to one of the following addresses:

• For fraud committed, or concerning refugees in Kenya email: [email protected] and/or UNHCR Representative: UNHCR Representation in Kenya, Lynwood Court Building, Waiyaki Way Service Road, Westlands, Nairobi, KENYA P.O. Box. 43801-00100. Tel. +254204232420, Fax: +254204232080.

• For allegations of fraud committed by UNHCR staff or partners: Head of Investigation Service Inspector General’s Office UNHCR 94, rue de Montbrillant 1202 Geneva Switzerland Telephone: +41 22 739 8844; Facsimile: +41 22 739 7380; Email: [email protected]; UNHCR website.

How can a refugee speak to UNHCR about his/her case and resettlement?

Resettlement counselling is held every Tuesday morning. Refugees requesting for an appointment for resettlement counselling are required to send ONE SMS only to this number: +254(0)704871054. The SMS should include the UNHCR Case Number and brief reason(s) [maximum 20 words] for the appointment. UNHCR staff will organize appointment schedules based on the incoming requests on a first-come basis and inform refugees of their counselling appointment date via SMS. Only those who have not approached the office for counselling over the last 2 months will be granted an appointment. Refugees are advised to arrive at the office by 7:30am on the date of their appointment.