Refugee Protection and Human Rights: The Threats of the New Kenyan Directive

Refugee Protection and Human Rights: The Threats of the New Kenyan Directive

In December, 2012, due to growing security concerns, the Kenyan government issued a directive to immediately stop the process of registering asylum seekers and refugees in Nairobi and other major urban cities in Kenya, home to the largest refugee population in the world. The new policy aims to relocate all registered refugees and asylum seeker to Kenyan refugee camps.

Heshima Kenya is a non-governmental organization and Zakat Foundation of America partner based in Nairobi, providing shelter, education and community outreach to unaccompanied refugee children and youth, mainly girls and young women. The staff of Heshima Kenya have informed Zakat Foundation of America that their Safe House is at capacity.

“More than ever, [since the directive] Heshima Kenya’s programs continue to be a lifeline for the girls we support. Our staff is working overtime to ensure that all girls are protected.” Heshima Kenya is actively working against the directive and continuing to advocate on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of young refugee women and children.

Kenya’s new refugee policy causes serious human rights concerns because it places hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers at risk of forceful relocation to already overcrowded refugee camps. Refugees are already reporting house-to-house searches by security forces, as well as rape, theft and assault by those charged with relocating them.

The United Nations Refugee Agency and human rights groups are urging the Kenyan government to adhere by its refugee policies and international refugee laws, which protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. According to UNHCR statistics, there are currently 56,000 asylum seekers and refugees registered in Nairobi and surrounding urban cities in Kenya.

Zakat Foundation of America works in Kenya to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of refugees in Dadaab camps, Nairobi and other major urban cities. Zakat Foundation of America is committed to helping sustain the work of Heshima Kenya during these difficult times and we urge you to support our programs in the region including our partnership with Heshima Kenya. For more information please click here.

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