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

News Stories, 10 October 2012

© UNHCR
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.

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Dadaab: World's Biggest Refugee Camp Turns 20

Last year, 2011, was the 20th anniversary of the world's biggest refugee camp - Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya. The anniversary is a reminder of the suffering of the Somali people, who have been seeking safety and shelter for two decades. UNHCR, which manages the Dadaab complex, set up the first camps there between October 1991 and June 1992. This followed a civil war in Somalia that in 1991 had culminated in the fall of Mogadishu and overthrow of the Siad Barre regime.

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