Dadaab, Kakuma Refugee Camps To Transition Into Integrated Settlements

Dadaab, Kakuma Refugee Camps To Transition Into Integrated Settlements
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Dadaab, Kakuma Refugee Camps To Transition Into Integrated Settlements

The resettlement of more than 700,000 refugees in Daadab and Kakuma camps inched closer to reality after key stakeholders formally adopted the planned integration with local communities.

The stakeholders have settled on November this year as the launch date of the Shirika Plan, which will result in redesigning the refugee camps in Garissa and Turkana counties into municipalities.

The Shirika Plan will be jointly implemented by the Kenyan government, the respective county governments, the UN, and the United Nations Commission for Refugees, among others.

Under the plan, the refugees will be absorbed into municipalities within the host communities, and the latter will benefit from enhanced socioeconomic investments, including schools, health facilities, roads, and modern markets.

Immigration Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the focus now will shift to mobilising resources to implement the Shirika Plan with phase one of the four-year project estimated to cost $943 million (Sh115.6 billion).

Dadaab, Kakuma Refugee Camps To Transition Into Integrated Settlements

“This money will come from different partners and donors, including governments and the private sector. It will be channelled not only through the government but also through international NGOs, county governments, ministries, and departments such as the Ministry of Lands,” he said.

The PS revealed that the necessary framework to support the implementation of the Shirika Plan is already in place.

“The enactment of the Refugee Act 2021 gave us the foundation. We also have the gazettement of regulations to operationalise the Act. We have a gazettement of documents used by refugees. The government has made a lot of progress in ensuring there is a legal and regulatory framework to support Plan.”

To anchor the integration, the Turkana and Garissa county governments have also gazetted Dadaab and Kakuma as municipalities to anchor the necessary planning and infrastructure upgrading.

As municipalities in the proposed integration, the current refugee camps will be restructured into modern urban centres with the requisite infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer systems and other necessities.

The settlements will be repurposed to favour mobility, freedom of movement, economic inclusion, and refugee participation in the country’s development processes.

The Shirika Plan National Steering Committee comprises the governors of Nairobi, Garissa, and Turkana and at least 17 PSs from state departments critical to implementing refugee integration.

These departments include the Interior, Treasury, Health, Lands, Water, Housing, Education, and Foreign Affairs.

Interior PS Raymond Omollo said the integration of refugees among host communities will enhance local and national security.

“It represents an innovative approach to refugee camps into integrated settlements that support the social economic inclusion of refugees and host communities thereby enhancing national security and cohesion.”

His foreign affairs counterpart, Korir Sing’Oei, hailed the Shirika Plan as a realistic appreciation of refugees’ socioeconomic potential.

“We have embraced a paradigm shift that no longer views a refugee as a burden that should be repatriated as soon as possible. Rather, we want to harness their skills and industry in ventures that are profitable to themselves and our country.”

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomurakai said the Shirika Plan will address concerns that development partners concentrate on funding refugees at the expense of host communities.

“There should be imperative balance when it comes to resource sharing, employment and many other things between the host community and refugees.”

UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya Stephen Jackson and Kenya’s Representative for UNHCR Caroline van Buren promised to support the implementation of the Shirika Plan.

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