Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi has said he will front Kenya as a front runner in providing solutions to the rising refugee challenge.
He said he will pitch Kenya’s effort to solve the refugee challenge during the 74th Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in few weeks.
Mudavadi said he expected to make a keynote speech at the event themed ‘Camps to Settlements: Socio-economic Hubs for Integrated Refugee Inclusion in Kenya’.
“In Geneva, I intend to pitch Kenya as a frontrunner in providing solutions to the rising refugee problem. I am in this regard pleased to inform you that through the ‘Shirika Plan’, Kenya is pioneering innovative approaches for the refugee management,” said Mudavadi.
Shirika plan, he said, aims at transforming the refugee camps into integrated settlements supporting the socio-economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in Garissa, Turkana, and urban areas, even as he stated that the details of the initiative will be provided at the Geneva event.
Mudavadi was speaking when he presided over the launch of Barrack Muluka’s book titled ‘Home and Exile, at the the French Cultural Centre in Nairobi.
“The entire globe is affected and we cannot continue to do the same things time and again, and wish the migration issues away. The world must speak with one voice on refugee matters,” he noted.
Mudavadi said Kenya has generously hosted refugees and asylum seekers for many decades.
It remains the fifth largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and thirteenth largest asylum country in the world, with over 644,011 registered refugees and asylum seekers.
Statistics also show that the vast majority reside in camps, including over 274,274 in Dadaab (Garissa County) and nearly 272,748 in Kakuma (Turkana County) while about 96,989 refugees reside in Nairobi and other urban areas and the numbers continue to rise by the day.
Similarly, he said the fact that Africa today contributes a third of the global refugee population is a worrying trend and one that needs immediate and sustained intervention.
Globally, the situation is no better either. According to UNHCR, the number of violently displaced people around the world at the end of 2022 was 108.4 million. Of these, 35.3 million were refugees, while internally displaced persons were 62.5 million.
There were 5.4 million asylum seekers and 5.2 million other people in need of international protection and the number has risen to about 110 million this year.
Mudavadi said the book provides an excellent foundation for the country to begin to ask hard questions.
“What is making refugee camps permanent features in human habitation and settlement, when such abodes should only be temporary relief points for humanitarian intervention? How do we stem and possibly reverse the trend? Why are refugees arriving in camps such as Kakuma and Dadaab even in relative peacetime? Why are refugees not returning to their countries even after the factors that rattled them seem to have come to an end?” stated Mudavadi.
In answering these questions, he said the book has called for the need to look beyond and ask whether the UNHCR Refugee Convention, an instrument fashioned 72 years ago, expecting that the refugee problem would be over in three years, is still relevant to the challenges of a new world order.
“As the book rightly states, we need viable alternatives relevant to changed times, decades after 1951. The time is now to begin unbundling these hard conditions,” he stated.