Trends in International Protection of Somali Refugees in Dadaab Refugee Complex, Kenya; (1991-2016)

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Mwancha, Duke Nyakundi
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Kenyatta University
This study explored how the dynamics of international protection for Somali refugees in Dadaab changed between 1991 and 2016. There have been many changes in Kenya’s asylum regime since the late 1980’s when Kenya already had some 12, 000 refugees who enjoyed the legal right to reside and work anywhere in Kenya. Things changed in 1991 when refugee camps were established and an encampment policy enforced. Refugees were required to live in camps under the management of the UNHCR. Asylum management was through the Immigration and the Alien Restriction laws. There lacked a refugee specific domestic law. The government remained unresponsive to calls for a domestic law until 2000 when the civil society intensified its advocacy. A change of regime in 2003 provided an atmosphere for enactment of the Refugee Act 2006. With the Act, the responsibility of managing refugees was supposed to fully shift back to the Government of Kenya but it did not. The Government of Kenya lacked capacity. Later, heightened insecurity after 2011 was attributed to the presence of Somali refugees in the country. This negatively influenced the asylum space. In 2014, parliament passed a law that would restrict the number of refugees in Kenya to 150, 000 and enforce the refugee encampment policy but the High Court nullified it. The study aimed to examine international protection policies used in Dadaab refugee complex between 1991 and 2000. It interrogated changes in the practice between 2001 and 2015. It also examined how Kenya’s most recent asylum policies influenced the protection environment for Somali refugees. Resilience theory applied for this survey conducted in October 2016. The study used qualitative methods with a descriptive research design to collect data through focus group discussions at household level in three refugee camps and interviews with key informants. Primary data was collected, transcribed and translated from Somali to English with the help of three research assistants. Secondary data was collected from published reports and key informants by the lead researcher. Themes and categories were extracted from the data, which were contextually analysed and recorded as study.
A Project Submitted to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Partial Fulfilment of Requirements for the Award of the Degree of Master of Arts in International Relations & Diplomacy At Kenyatta University, May 2019