Between A Rock & A Hard Place: Shrinking Asylum Space

For decades, Kenya has provided a safe haven to thousands of refugees from neighboring countries fleeing war, persecution, and famine. While most reside in refugee camps, a significant number have made their way to urban centers like Nairobi where they have better access to jobs, education, and medical care. But growing insecurity within Kenya, including terrorist attacks by the Somalia-based terrorist group Al Shabab, have triggered xenophobic responses. In recent months, urban refugees – primarily from Somalia, but also from the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere – have been subjected to arbitrary police detention and extortion, forced relocation to refugee camps in Kenya’s remote north, and even unlawful deportation. Meanwhile, renewed conflict and a severe drought in Somalia have made return to their home country a risky choice for Somali refugees. In July, RI sent a team to assess the situation.