UN vows to nurture refugee talent in Kenya
06 November 2015, 21:29
Nairobi - UN refugee agency vowed on Thursday to help nurture the talent of refugees living in Kenya.
United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Kenya Raouf Mazou told an art exhibition in Nairobi that the UN is committed to give refugee artists an opportunity to express themselves so that they can showcase and earn a living from their art.
"We will try to organize a forum every year that will provide a platform for refugee artists to perform," Mazou said during the launch of the Artists for Refugees Project Exhibition.
Mazou said that nurturing of art is just as it is important as giving food, health and educational assistance to the refugees.
"Art is very important because it is an avenue through which any given society including, that of refugees express themselves," he said.
The UN official added that Kenya should be commended for its generosity of hosting a large number of refugees from different nationalities.
According to government estimates, there are close to 580,000 refugees living in Kenya from 30 nationalities.
Mazou said that the number of Somali refugees in Kenya has reduced from a high of 520,000 in 2011 to approximately 420,000 currently.
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He noted that since the voluntary repatriation exercise began in 2013, over 56,000 have returned to Somalia out of which the UN directly helped 6000 resettle back in their home country.
He said that rate of return of Somali's back home will depend on the amount of basic services available in their places of return.
The international donors in October pledged 105 million U.S. dollars to help stabilize and reconstruct Somalia.
Most of the refugees are primarily going back to Jubaland in the southern part of Somalia.
Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government Acting Commissioner of the Department of Refugee Affairs Haron Komen said that Kenya is proud to host refugees from all over the world.
"As part of our traditions and in order to meet international obligations we will continue to host refugees until their home nations stabilize," Komen said.
More than 5,300 refugees have now returned to Somalia since December 2014, assisted by UNHCR and partners while a significant number of Somalis have returned spontaneously.
Over 2 million Somalis remain displaced in the region, including some 1.1 million in their own country and 967,000 as refugees in the neighbouring countries. The majority (420,000) are living in Kenya, mostly in the five refugee camps in Dadaab in the north-east of the country.
Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees live in Ethiopia, an estimated 240,000 in Yemen, while over 29,000 are in Uganda and nearly 12,000 in Djibouti.