HUMANITY

Garissa civil society calls for safeguarding of refugee rights

Say state should fast-track removal of Kenyans from the refugees database

In Summary

• They said for more than 30 years, Garissa residents who had been registered in the refugees’ database have not been able to receive their ID cards.

• “Those captured in the refugees’ database went there not because they wanted to become refugees. They wanted access to food and social amenities,” Bashir said.

Yussuf Bashir from Haki na Sheria speaks at the Kenya Editors Guild workshop in Garissa on Wednesday, June 15.
Yussuf Bashir from Haki na Sheria speaks at the Kenya Editors Guild workshop in Garissa on Wednesday, June 15.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Human rights organisations in Garissa have called on the government to ensure refugees are accorded their basic rights and treated in a humane way.

They said for more than 30 years, Garissa residents who had been registered in the refugees database have not been able to receive their ID cards, making it hard for them to get birth certificates for their children.

The activists spoke on Wednesday during a meeting with Kenya Editors Guild in Garissa town.

They also urged the media to highlight issues affecting refugees.

Haki na Sheria’s Yussuf Bashir said the biggest challenge in Northeastern is getting nationality documents.

“Some people cannot get IDs, passports or birth certificates for their children.

“Those whose fingerprints are in the refugees’ database went there not because they wanted to become refugees. They wanted access to food and social amenities,” he said.

Fatuma Bathi an activist from Garissa speaking during the Kenya Editors Guild workshop on Wednesday, June 14..
WAR AGAINST SGBV: Fatuma Bathi an activist from Garissa speaking during the Kenya Editors Guild workshop on Wednesday, June 14..
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Garissa county human rights vice chairperson Fatuma Bathi said sexual and gender based violence cases are also being reported in refugee camps.

She said relevant authorities should take action against the culprits.

Bathi said the state should fast-track the process of removing Kenyans from the refugees’ database for ease of access to government services. 

Kenya Editors Guild official Andy Kagwa said the media will be engaging stakeholders to be able to highlight and educate citizens on the issues of refugees and their rights.

“It is important that we are discussing these issues just before the International Refugees Day, next Monday,” he said.

Participants during a workshop organised by the Kenya Editors Guild in Garissa on Wednesday, June 14..
PLIGHT OF REFUGEES: Participants during a workshop organised by the Kenya Editors Guild in Garissa on Wednesday, June 14..
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Kagwa said the media is giving people opportunities to highlight refugee issues in newspapers, TV, Radio and digital platforms. 

“We are setting aside columns for analysts to give commentaries on how refugee issues affect people in different regions,” he said.

The official said they are asking the government to find a middle ground with refugees because they also have rights.

Earlier this year, the government issued 12,500 ID cards to Kenyans from Northeastern counties, whose names had been captured on the refugees’ database.

The government said there will be more vetting processes to clear the remaining citizens.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

George Nyabuga from the Kenya Editors Guild speaks during a meeting with human rights organisations in Garissa on Wednesday, June 14.
REFUGEE ISSUES: George Nyabuga from the Kenya Editors Guild speaks during a meeting with human rights organisations in Garissa on Wednesday, June 14.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO
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