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Top Kenyan university opens campus next to world's largest refugee camp

News Stories, 10 October 2012

Refugees take part in the opening ceremony for the new Kenyatta University campus in Dadaab.

DADAAB, Kenya, October 10 (UNHCR) Nairobi's Kenyatta University has opened a campus in the north-east town of Dadaab and courses will be open to Kenyan citizens and refugees living in the nearby refugee complex, the world's biggest with almost half-a-million people.

UNHCR officials working in Dadaab attended the formal opening on Tuesday of the tertiary education facility, which will welcome its first students in January for diploma, undergraduate and master's courses in subjects such as finance, marketing, project management, education, public administration, community mobilization, peace and conflict studies.

The campus, the latest of several opened by Kenyatta University in Nairobi and other towns, will benefit both refugees and Kenyans living in North Eastern Province. It was built on an empty site in Dadaab town.

"This is a big leap forwards, it is a win-win situation a win for Kenya and a win for the refugees," said Dominik Bartsch, head of UNHCR's operations in Dadaab. Kenyatta University's official web site says that one of its visions is to "be a centre of excellence in refugee education" and adds that it aims to "empower the refugees through tertiary education, capacity building and research so as to effectively prepare them for post conflict arbitration/mediation and reintegration."

Bartsch said the opening of the Dadaab campus would "serve as an incentive for refugee children to complete school and proceed to obtain higher qualifications." He also pointed out that a university degree would allow refugees to make a contribution to Kenyan society and they could also help rebuild their country once peace returned. Most of the refugees in Dadaab are from Somalia.

Courses offered at the university will directly benefit the education sector in the refugee camps through diploma courses on topics such as school management and early childhood education.




UNHCR country pages

The Nubians in Kenya

In the late 1880s, Nubians from Sudan were conscripted into the British army. The authorities induced them to stay in Kenya by granting them homesteads and issuing them British colonial passports. The Nubians named their settlement near Nairobi, Kibra, or "land of forest." In 1917, the British government formally declared the land a permanent settlement of the Nubians. Since independence, Kenyan Nubians have had difficulty getting access to ID cards, employment and higher education and have been limited in their travel. In recent years, a more flexible approach by the authorities has helped ease some of these restric¬tions and most adult Nubians have been confirmed as Kenyan citizens, but children still face problems in acquiring Kenyan citizenship.

The Nubians in Kenya

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

The UN refugee agency has moved 4,700 Somali refugees from the outskirts of Kenya's Dadaab refugee complex into the Ifo Extension site since 25 July 2011. The ongoing relocation movement is transferring 1,500 people a day and the pace will soon increase to 2,500 to 3,000 people per day.

The refugees had arrived in recent weeks and months after fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia. They settled spontaneously on the edge of Ifo camp, one of three existing camps in the Dadaab complex, that has been overwhelmed by the steadily growing influx of refugees.

The new Ifo Extension site will provide tented accommodation to 90,000 refugees in the coming months. Latrines and water reservoirs have been constructed and are already in use by the families that have moved to this site.

Somalia Emergency: Refugees move into Ifo Extension

Running out of space: Somali refugees in Kenya

The three camps at Dadaab, which were designed for 90,000 people, now have a population of about 250,000 Somali civilians, making it one of the world's largest and most congested refugee sites. UNHCR fears tens of thousands more will arrive throughout 2009 in this remote corner of north-east Kenya as the situation in their troubled country deteriorates further.

Resources, such as food and water, have been stretched dangerously thin in the overcrowded camps, with sometimes 400 families sharing one tap. There is no room to erect additional tents and the new arrivals are forced to share already crowded shelters with other refugees.

In early 2009, the Kenyan government agreed to allocate more land at Dadaab to accommodate some 50,000 refugees. View photos showing conditions in Dadaab in December 2008.

Running out of space: Somali refugees in Kenya

Kenya: A Lifetime of WaitingPlay video

Kenya: A Lifetime of Waiting

Sarah was born and raised in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Now 21, she has become a wife and mother without ever setting foot outside the camp.
Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.
Kenya: Hawa's Dilemma Play video

Kenya: Hawa's Dilemma

When Hawa was a child, her father was murdered by rebels and her mother was kidnapped. Later Hawa was jailed and raped. When she was released, she fled to Kenya, where she now lives as a refugee. No one chooses to be a refugee.