Kenya

In Kenya, a country that today is home to more than 556,000 refugees, there has been significant attention to the plight of refugees living in overcrowded camps. Yet there has been little focus on the growing number of refugees living in its urban centres. Indeed, the exact size of the refugee population in the capital city Nairobi is not known, with figures ranging from 55,000 to 100,000. Despite these high numbers, both quantitative and qualitative information available on these populations is scarce. In Nairobi, urban refugees are dispersed over the city, often highly mobile and reluctant to come forward for support due to fear that they could be deported or sent to refugee camps. This makes them a largely ‘invisible’ population, despite their significant need for protection and other support mechanisms. Yet, the findings of a recent study also indicate that refugees make an important contribution to the local and national Kenyan economy. This could be further harnessed to great effect if there were greater initiatives to support refugee livelihoods.