World Refugee Day, June 20, 2022, is a global celebration of refugees who have shown fortitude and courage in the face of adversity. This day celebrates the resilience and bravery of refugees, as well as public awareness and support for those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, insecurity, human rights abuses, persecution, and climate impacts like drought or natural disasters. The right to seek safety is the topic of this year’s World Refugee Day, which includes safe borders, not sending anyone back if doing so would threaten their life or freedom, non-discriminatory and humanitarian treatment. Safety is easily taken for granted, but for refugees who are risking everything, it is the only thing that matters. Refugees risk everything in the hope of securing a better future for themselves and their families.
According to the UNHCR, Kenya hosts approximately 520,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including over 278,000 from Somalia, close to 133,000 from South Sudan, 47,000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 29,000 from Ethiopia. The majority of refugees are housed in three camps: Dadaab in the southeast, Kakuma in the northwest, and Nairobi in the capital.
Women and girls account for over half of the 100 million people who have been displaced. When a crisis hits, women are often the first responders, but their voices are frequently silenced either by regulations or procedures designed to safeguard them. Women refugees face additional oppression as a result of gender discrimination, especially poverty and other challenges that all refugees experience.
On a new project titled Strategic Partnership Agreement Phase 2, Youth Alive! Kenya has partnered with Action Aid International Kenya to implement a six months pilot project in Nairobi urban settlements. The goal of the project is “Young people, especially women, and marginalized communities enjoy fundamental rights through improved access to well-resourced programs and public services, improved sustainable livelihoods, protection from and resilience to shocks, disasters, and protracted crisis in five arid and semi-arid counties.
This project initiatives and impact framework will focus on resilience to shocks and enjoyment of a right to protection in fragile situations, disasters, and enjoyment of fundamental rights through improved access to well-resourced programs and public services by young people, especially women and refugees, in urban settlements of Nairobi.
We aim to build the capacity of women, youth, and refugees living in poverty and exclusion, as well as their institutions and solidarity groups, to hold both levels of government and humanitarian actors accountable for delivering an effective, timely, and appropriate emergency response even while promoting transformative changes.
We need the commitment, action, and financial resources to respond to affected communities’ humanitarian needs following the unique humanitarian signature of women’s leadership, shifting power and accountability to affected communities. It is up to us to invest in providing resources and opportunities to support refugees during this time of rebuilding as inequality gaps widen and displacement worsens. As Trevor Noah stated “Anyone could become a refugee. It’s a thing that happens to you, it’s not who you are.”
Victoria Nyokabi – Program Assistant, Youth Alive! Kenya