Report

Recognising Nairobi’s refugees : The challenges and significance of documentation proving identity and status

Published 16. Nov 2017
As of September 2017, almost half a million refugees —mostly from East African countries, and predominantly from Somalia—live in Kenya. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that while the majority of refugees in Kenya live in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, around 64,000 refugees reside in Nairobi.

This report provides a snapshot of the challenges that urban refugees have experienced—generally from 2014 onwards—obtaining documents from the Government of Kenya or UNHCR in Nairobi that recognise their status as refugees. It also explores the significance of these documents to refugees and the consequences that flow from lack of documentation. It aims to contribute to discussions among humanitarian and local actors in Nairobi on how to ensure that refugees who have chosen to live in urban settings—exercising their right to freedom of movement under international human rights law—are “provided with adequate documents . . . and not penalized for travelling,” as the UNHCR policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas stipulates.