Supporting integration of refugees into local communities
The Refugee Bill currently being debated in the Kenyan parliament is one such solution. If it is passed and implemented, it will ensure that refugees in Kenya can move freely, earn a living, and access public services.
But Kenya cannot—and should not—be solely responsible. Kenya’s economy, like many others, has been sharply hit by the pandemic. Only a few governments provide humanitarian assistance for refugees living in camps in Kenya. Humanitarian funding has also declined, with sharp cuts announced for this year.
It is imperative that high-income governments shoulder their fair share of responsibility. They should urgently increase development funding to help Kenya expand its public services in order to integrate refugees into local communities, while ensuring sufficient levels of humanitarian assistance in the camps until additional solutions have been found.
Multilateral institutions such as the World Bank must lead the search for durable solutions for refugees. Along with UNHCR, they need to bring Kenyan lawmakers and authorities around the table to devise local integration pathway for refugees.
Resettlement and complementary pathways are vital
Last year, refugee resettlement was at a record low. Wealthy governments should urgently support and facilitate increased resettlement and complementary pathways for refugees. Implementing adequate safety and health protocols to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 are now feasible, so the pandemic can no longer be used as an excuse to deny refugees avenues to safety.
Above all, the United Nations and the international community must renew their efforts to promote peace and stability in Somalia. The very fact that Dadaab has existed for three decades is a failure of peace initiatives.
Refugees dream of one day leaving Dadaab, but not at all costs. When the time comes for them to leave Dadaab it must be because they freely choose to do so, and only once their dignity, health, and freedom have been assured.