Kenya: Influx of Congolese refugees puts pressure on JRS emergency programme
13 March 2009

Food distribution to refugees in Nairobi. A recent influx of Congolese refugees has put pressure on JRS programmes. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
Recent outbreaks of conflict, the looting of their property and the fear to be forced to fight have pushed them to leave their country.
Nairobi, 13 March 2009 —  For the JRS Urban Emergency Programme (UEP) in Nairobi, the month of February was not business as usual. There was a remarkable increase of new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in particular from South Kivu. Most of them are young men and women aged between 18 and 30 years. Those over 30 years are very few. Noticeable is the absence of elderly people as many are claiming that their parents died back in Congo. Recent outbreaks of conflict, the looting of their property and the fear to be forced to fight have pushed them to leave their country.

According to UNHCR, 1772 individuals have been registered since October 2008 among which 702 were registered within the first 3 weeks of February. 90 percent of them are from DRC. UNHCR has set up a special “task force team" to register the new arrivals. Some have been registered already and have their first appointment to undergo the Refugee Determination Status process in August 2009. It is due to the high influx of new arrivals that it takes more than six months until the first appointment in some cases.

New arrivals impacting JRS programmes

The influx has a great impact on JRS UEP given that the new arrivals are approaching the programme for emergency assistance. Although they have indicated to UNHCR that they are self-sufficient and can remain in Nairobi while awaiting the result of their Refugee Status Determination process, the reality is that they are in need of assistance. Also, new arrivals are hesitant to proceed to Kakuma refugee camp in north-western Kenya since a group of Congolese refugees has left the camp last year in October claiming it was because of insecurity.

At the moment the Divine Word parish in Kayole has experienced the highest influx of new arrivals. While the parish opened with 27 families at the beginning of February 2009 the number of families had more than tripled at the end of the month with almost 100 families being assisted.







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