ARE IN UNHCR BOOKS

Rights lobby wants IDs for Garissa residents captured as refugees

Victims risk being stateless since they are not recognised by the Kenyan government.

In Summary

• The fingerprints of the affected Garissa residents were captured in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees database and cannot be issued with ID cards.

• The majority of the victims registered themselves for third party repatriation overseas programme or food rations and other benefits UNHCR.

Residents of Dadaab town sit under a tree on Saturday last week during a meeting.
Residents of Dadaab town sit under a tree on Saturday last week during a meeting.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

A human rights organisation wants the government to issue identification documents to Kenyans whose details were captured by the UN refugee agency. 

The fingerprints of the affected Garissa residents were captured in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees database hence they cannot be issued with ID cards.

Haki Na Sheria Initiative’s programme officer Bare Kerrow said the victims risked being stateless since they are not recognised by the Kenyan government.

Kerrow spoke to the press in Garissa town on Wednesday. 

The majority of the victims registered themselves for third party repatriation overseas programme or food rations and other benefits UNHCR offered in the early 90s.

Kerrow wondered what will happen to Kenyans who have been living in refugee camps since a number of them have either been closed or are on the verge of closure. 

“These people are silently suffering. Imagine someone who can’t travel, open a bank account or even engage in lawful businesses,” Kerrow said.

He said there exist mechanisms to identify and prove that those affected are Kenyans by birth, have their fingerprints removed from the UNHCR database and be issued with ID cards.

On August 23 the government formed a task force to develop vetting, verification and eligibility criteria for stateless persons to use together with a comprehensive stateless persons’ database.

The committee was also assigned to develop a sensitisation programme for Kenya host communities for the seamless integration of stateless persons. 

It will also examine and recommend an appropriate legal policy framework for the identification, registration and integration of stateless persons.

The committee will also identify emerging international best practices in the management of stateless persons in the context of national security.

Kerrow said Haki Na Sheria will formally write to the task force to seek explanations whether victims of double registration are covered by the committee.

Eunice Lamba will chair the task force while committee members include Kenneth Nduati, Shumary Malleon, Alfred Omangi, Peter Thuku, Martin Owuor and Alfred Ombati.