“ There is a perception in the West that refugee camps are temporary. When images of the earthquakes in Pakistan are shown, and the survivors seen in their vast cities of shale-colored tents, waiting for food or rescue before the coming of winter, most Westerners believe that these refugees will soon be returned to their homes, that the camps will be dismantled inside of six months, perhaps a year. But I grew up in refugee camps. I lived in Pinyudo for almost three years, Golkur for almost one year, and Kakuma for ten. In Kakuma , a small community of tents grew to a vast patchwork of shanties and buildings constructed from poles and sisal bags and mud, and this is where we lived and worked and went to school from 1992 to 2001. It is not the worst place on the continent of Africa, but it is among them”.
KANERE questions the policy of water rationing for refugees. Why are refugees subject to a water rationing system while staff members living in the four compounds (NGO, World Food Program, UNHCR, and police compounds) are given unlimited water ? In fact, the compounds account for 15% of total water extraction per day , while refugees account for 75% (10% is factored as loss). By contrast, the total population in the four compounds stands at an estimated 200 persons, or roughly 0.4% of the refugee population . WATER RATIONING SYSTEM
A Turkana woman carries water for sale Thousands of refugees living in the multinational area of Zone Five were affected by a four-week water shortage during January and February. The problem began in mid-January when a water pump serving Zone Five broke, according to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) employee who operates the pump. The shortage persisted while LWF Water Department waited for repair materials to arrive from Nairobi. The pump operator reports that the problem was fixed on 15 February. An LWF Water official who spoke to KANERE on 16 February said, “The problem has now been sorted out; there is no problem of water now.” However, on 24 February the new water tank was still being installed and was not yet functioning. Community members report that water shortages persist and water flow remains inconsistent. WATER SHORTAGE
Security guard: “Water is little, a family size one gets only 20 litres. Man, I will call the police tonight.” Refugee grabbing shirt: “Hey you, why did you fetch water before me?” Refugee carrying water: “Don’t grab my clothes, I arrived before you!”
Only 36% of students in Kakuma Refugee Camp passed the 2008 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. Of the 1,215 students who sat for exams in Kakuma Camp primary schools, 440 are academically qualified to continue on to secondary education. Of those who passed, 50 students were girls. LOW EDUCATION STANDARDS
A 16-year old refugee boy sustained injuries after he was beaten by a Kenyan police officer on 15 December, 2008, at Food Distribution Centre Three in Kakuma Refugee Camp. The incident occurred while the boy was collecting his food rations. The young man, I.M., sustained severe pains following the beating. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and was discharged the following day. He was not issued with a medical report upon his discharge. POLICE BEATINGS
Refugees were alarmed to see that the food ration package distributed in the second week of January replaced wheat flour with yellow maize meal . Yellow maize meal is rarely eaten even by communities whose staple food is maize. The current malnutrition rate in Kakuma Camp is 15.9 percent of the population, according to a recent UN survey. … When contacted for comment, World Food Program officials were too busy to schedule an appointment. CHANGES IN FOOD RATIONS
In Kakuma Refugee Camp parlance, a distinction is made between “incentive” and “salary” payments. Refugees with proper qualifications and competence in their fields employed by international organizations are paid “incentives” and not salary. The incentives are far below what their non-refugee counterparts earn in the form of salaries. Are refugees entitled to equal pay for equal work? UNEQUAL PAY
What about the refugee children? If they receive food rations from the UNHCR, why do they still work to earn money for food? The answer to this question lies in system of food rationing : the rations distributed to families simply do not last long enough. Refugees collect rations twice a month, but the allocated food supplies are too small to keep them healthy until next collection day. This pushes some refugee children to work so that they can supplement their meager food rations with a small salary. CHILD LABOUR
Elizabeth nurses her child after suffering a bullet wound in July. Refugees came to seek refuge in Kenya in search for peace and security, to find a place free from threats and violence. Kakuma Refugee Camp has proven to offer some level of peace and security, but it is not satisfactory. Many agencies provide services to help fight and prevent violence here in Kakuma Refugee Camp. [They…] play a significant role in promoting peace and security in the camp by providing training on issues such as human rights, peace, and security. These efforts by NGOs have made it possible for refugees to taste a state of peace and security. Unfortunately, these efforts have not proven to be sufficient SECURITY
“ I fight for justice over injustice.” These are the words spoken by Samuel Esianyen Lokumak, born in the Kakuma area of Turkana District in 1952. He is a chief elder, peace maker, and security officer for local and refugee communities. Currently, Mr Lokumak works with the Chairman of the Peace Committee, Mr. Simon Lotuk Chegeu, in bridging the gap between refugees and the surrounding host community in Turkana District. LOCAL LEADERS
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT KANERE? Written by people in an extremely isolated setting Written for refugees Shared with outsiders Uncensored ACCESS TO NEW MEDIA GLOBAL REACH ADVOCACY LOCAL, FOCUSED PERSPECTIVE AUTHENTIC, NEW VOICES IN GLOBAL DEBATES
“ During this month, we had some delays in printing the Journal, because we were waiting for the Protection Officer to approve what we had written. This made it so that we were not able to follow our schedule. So we didn’t print the Journal in February, even though we were prepared”. Journal Mwange (Zambia) Project Coordinator Blog March 2009
OPPORTUNITIES Transparency Accountability Right to information Right to have a voice IMPROVING THE HUMANITARIAN SYSTEM REALISING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE REFUGEES
OPPORTUNITIES CITIZENSHIP Transparency Accountability Rights to information Right to have a voice
THROUGH JOURNALISM A REFUGEE A CITIZEN CAN BE SEEN, CAN FEEL AS
A REFUGEE A CITIZEN by being “labelled as such, lose… … identity … right to be informed … power do decide … power to challenge … voice
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN REFUGEESSPEAK UP? “ The blog and newspaper has been causing some serious kinds of hair pulling within the UNHCR and is an absolutely fantastic example of citizen journalism, empowered by the web, completely changing the game of humanitarian business”
“ Why is it causing serious kinds of hair pulling? First, it’s accountability in practice , a direct threat to business as usual for aid organisations. Second, it’s unmediated - exactly the sort of refugee voice that UNHCR won’t present at Davos. Third, it demonstrates how information empowers people - something that we’ve been talking about for ages but failed to put into practice. Extending information rights to beneficiaries - in this case, the residents of Kakuma Refugee Camp - is no longer optional, and this are just the beginnings of the next stage of growth for the aid industry.”
“ Let’s face it, there are certain groups of people in any population who are never allowed to speak for themselves, to represent their own rights or interests, or to reflect on the provisions that are made for their care” In a camp situation real power lies with the ‘lead’ NGO. It usually does not share information about the budget or other resources to be allocated and has absolute power over almost everything within its confines. Under these circumstances, the notion that it would be possible to have a democratic functioning camp leadership structure is a farce… In the meantime, one way to begin to address the evils of camps is to create feedback mechanisms, which, while beginning to address problems that can be put to rights, will also alert donors to the evils of camps.
CHALLENGES Lack of funding for printed version Poor access to computer, internet Denied access to information Threatening environment OPERATIONAL (RESOURCES DENIED) SYSTEMIC (CITIZENSHIP DENIED)
“ Do all the people who work with and amongst refugees and asylum seekers believe in their rights, and particularly the right to a free press?” “ A background check indicates that KANERE is experiencing registration problems simply because their intention to enjoy the right to free press is not being given approval by stakeholders working with and amongst refugees. This includes the government of Kenya, which is frustrating the registration of KANERE as a community-based organization to work in the camp environment”.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS A blog and a newsletter in every camp? A networked refugee/citizen journalism? Practical support (money, access) Protection mechanisms for refugee journalists Real push for transparency and accountability of humanitarian response Mechanisms of collaboration / networking around refugee info RESOURCES PROTECTION OF RIGHTS SYSTEMIC CHANGES IN AID INDUSTRY NEW LOCAL / GLOBAL ALLIANCES
KANERE will be refugees' "eye glasses" to see the reality of their situation SUSTAINABILITY What future for refugee / citizen Journalism?