• April 20, 2024
  • Last Update April 20, 2024 5:28 PM
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stakeholders push drive for support of urban refugees in Kenya and Uganda

stakeholders push drive for support of urban refugees in Kenya and Uganda


Friday, 15 March, 2024

McCreadie Andias

While humanitarian response to refugees living in camps has often been overlooked or rather over prioritized, There has been urgent and growing need for attention to urban refugees who have often considered themselves under looked due to perceptions of being socially and economically well off as compared to those confined in camps.

Refugees in urban areas need urgent support as much as those in camps since they face pressing barriers that impede their ability to navigate pre-existing social challanges drawn from social inclusion, security, economic and psychosocial dynamics.

Urban refugees are more vulnerable to exclusion, challanges to aquire better livelyhoods and surveillance, impediments that have been worsened by tough policies and laws in countries where they seek refuge.

In a bid to unlock solutions to these pressing needs. The international rescue committee on Friday 15th convened a meeting at the Nairobi Trademark Hotel which drew key refugee response players and stakeholders seeking to unlock pathways to better support urban refugees.

The meeting saw the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Kenya, launch a paper titled ‘How Donors Can Support Urban Refugees in Nairobi & Uganda’. The paper adresses the critical issue of self-reliance for urban refugees and how donors can mobilize resources to support their inclusion. Urban refugees have been innovative in creating solutions to sustain themselves.

However, the crucial questions remains: What do their livelihoods and economic ecosystems look like for them to become self-reliant? i.e., what are the barriers and challenges? Does the ecosystem support their thriving, or are they merely surviving?

Jean Marie Ishimwe, R-SEAT East African regional lead, adressed the need to evaluate the progress to refugee inclusion, Marie believes that the Local government has made significant strides to ameliorate refugee inclusion but there still more to be done.

“While there has been a significant positive policy shift, particularly in Kenya, and the government is making considerable efforts to streamline the refugee response, there is a need for a critical evaluation of the progress made toward refugee inclusion.” Ishimwe noted in a statement.

During the meeting,Ishimwe emphasized the necessity for donors to extend their support beyond providing resources and funds.

He adressed the need to back advocacy efforts through bilateral discussions with governments and partners to ensure the success of interventions for and with refugees, particularly in advancing the refugee response ecosystem to be inclusive and prioritize the needs of refugees.

Leading organizations like R-SEAT have been on the forefront of advocating the critical issue of meaningful participation and the need to exclusively allow refugees to be not only actively but primarily involved in interventions efforts that affect their livelihoods since they are more aware of the challanges they face.

“Drawing from our experience at Refugees Seat, we believe that for the needs and priorities of refugees to be best achieved, their vital voice, participation and representation in discussions about their lives are essential.” Ishimwe explains.

“While Paragraph 34 of the Global Compact of Refugees (GCR) broadly advocates for meaningful participation of refugees and refugee-led initiatives and organizations, it’s equally crucial to empower them by providing space and shifting mindsets and power to the communities, as they are the rights holders. “Ishimwe adds.

The vital role of refugee-led organizations (RLOs) and Community Based organizations (CBOs) in refugee response interventions is strategic since these entities are first respondents in the community and are more knowledgeable on effective approaches to execute response as they are closest to the community.

Ishimwe explored Integration as an integral part of supporting urban refugees and this could be best supported by engaging the host community members. Healthy integration between refugees and the host community supports peaceful co-existance.

It is sufficient to say that, if Urban refugees are well supported, they are in a much better position to de-colonize overeliance on aid, they can be a solution to common challenges affecting their communities.

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