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UNHCR to provide lifelong skills to refugees living in Kenya

24 October 2014, 09:32

Nairobi - An estimated 600,000 refugees residing in temporary camps in northern Kenya will benefit from capacity development programs designed to enable them to become self-reliant, a UN official said on Thursday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s Kenya Representative Raouf Mazou said that provision of lifelong skills will enable refugees to integrate in their host country.

"An economically empowered refugee is an asset to his host country and will also make valuable contribution to the reconstruction of his home country," Mazou said at a forum in Nairobi.

The UN refugee agency has commenced discussions with multilateral partners including the private sector to initiate livelihood support projects for displaced people.

Mazou said that refugees settled in Kenya will not be treated as charity object but as productive members of the society.

"Provision of basic services like education, health, clean water and sanitation is part of psycho social support for refugees. The other critical phase is to reintegrate them in the society," he said.

Also read: Over 50,000 refugees reside in Nairobi

Kenyan officials have said an influx of refugees from neighboring countries has put a strain on the country's social amenities and fragile ecosystems. Mazou noted that host population has considered these refugees a burden.

"We need to explore alternative ways to integrate these refugees in the formal economy. Provision of vocational skills to refugees in camps is a viable alternative," he said.

The UN refugee agency has partnered with the government and development partners to facilitate repatriation of Somali refugees, Mazou said, adding that the repatriation process will be gradual to prevent a backlash.

"We are observing the rights of every refugee and have rolled out safety nets. The ability of refugees to integrate in their home country depends on the support they were given in the camps," said Mazou.

The international community is focusing on provision of life skills to enable refugees to sustain themselves in the face of declining humanitarian assistance. Mazou said that social entrepreneurship has unleashed opportunities for refugees living in Kenya.

 - Xinhua

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