World Refugee Day – June 20, 2015 – Kakuma

Remarks by the Deputy High Commissioner during a World Refugee Day event held in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County

Deputy High Comissioner John Murton

Good afternoon. I would like to extend warm greetings to everyone, including representatives of the Government of Kenya, the County Government of Turkana, the Governor, the UN, the diplomatic community, the refugee community, ladies and gentlemen. It is wonderful to be back in Kakuma, having first worked in Turkana twenty years ago…

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the UK would like to recognize and extend our sincere thanks to the Government and people of Kenya for a long history of hosting refugees and providing protection to those fleeing conflict, drought, and persecution in their countries of origin.

Our High Commissioner was here one year ago and spoke on behalf of the European Union, of which the United Kingdom is a member state. This year I would like to focus on how the UK is working to support refugees and host communities in Kenya, and trying to support durable solutions for refugees.

The UK shares Kenya’s desire for a sustainable solution to the refugee issue. We therefore welcome and support the efforts of the Government of Kenya, the Federal Government of Somalia and UNHCR for their efforts at implementing the 2013 Tripartite Agreement.

This important Agreement is designed to provide a legal framework for the safe and dignified voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya and their reintegration in Somalia.

The UK government agrees that the best durable solution for refugees is for them to return to their countries of origin. We are pleased that thousands of refugees have decided to return to Somalia, some with assistance from UNHCR and the international community, and some entirely on their own.

We believe that returns must be voluntary, safe, and dignified; returns must be based on the right conditions being in place in countries of origin; and returns must be in accordance with international law.

The UK has committed huge sums to enable such returns. In Somalia, we are working to create the conditions for return, as we are in other countries of origin. Our programme in Somalia involves the provision of a broad package of assistance to rebuild that country. These processes take time, but progress is being made. We hope to do the same in South Sudan as future conditions allow.

In the meantime, here in Kenya, the UK is committed to helping Kenya in providing assistance and protection to refugees. As the second largest bilateral donor in this area, the UK provides funding to help deliver basic, life-saving assistance and protection to more than 530,000 refugees, from more than a dozen countries, both here in Kakuma and in Dadaab. This includes support through our partners, UNHCR and WFP, in critical areas including health, nutrition, water and sanitation, environment, host community support, and food rations.

We are very proud to be contributing towards a new programme that will provide a modest monthly cash transfer to refugees to allow them to purchase some of the foods that they need. This will also help to support the local economy and local livelihoods to benefit the Turkana population.

We are aware that there are difficulties in the camps. Rations are being temporarily reduced because there is not enough funding to provide full rations for everyone. We are very concerned about this and we are trying to do more to help, and we are confident that we will be able to.

We also appreciate, very much, the critical efforts of many people, including the County Government and the local community, in providing more land in Turkana County to accommodate the refugee population. We thank the Governor and his team for their efforts. We all want to see this new site in Kalobeyi developed with sustainability in mind, and in a way that supports better integration of the local economy and the refugee economy for the benefit of all. We are committed to supporting this process.

In all of this, the UK is a steadfast partner… Bi-partisan support for 0.7% GNI to ODA… Post-elections, the new UK government will remain a long-term partner…

Thank you very much again for this opportunity and for all of your hard and dedicated work on behalf of refugees.

Published 23 June 2015