Kalobeyei, 19th June 2023 (Governor’s Press Service) – Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai has reiterated the County Government of Turkana’s unwavering commitment to supporting refugees.
“In Turkana County, we stand proud and honoured to have provided support to refugees who have sought shelter within our borders. Since the arrival of the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ in 1992, residents of Turkana have opened their arms to those in need. I want to assure all refugees residing in Turkana that the County Government stands firmly by your side,” he said.
The Governor was speaking today during the World Refugee Day commemoration held at the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, where Permanent Secretary for the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services, Prof (Amb) Julius Bitok, was the Chief Guest. Turkana is home to over 300,000 refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement.
To realize the vision of integration between refugees and host communities, the Governor said the County Government has been working closely with UNHCR and other partners to implement the Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-economic Plan (KISEDP).
The Governor underscored the inclusion of refugees as residents of Turkana County in various aspects of governance, including public participation in county legislation.
He asked partners to collaborate to improve the water supply in Kakuma Municipality and ensure environmental protection in the face of deforestation endangering indigenous trees.
The County boss assured of the county’s willingness to support refugee affairs, including allocating more land for expansion of settlement, but stated that due process had to be followed in all land allocation processes in the county.
PS Bitok expressed the Government’s “unwavering commitment to refugees and ensuring their dignified stay within Kenyan borders.” He said his department was implementing policies and programmes to ensure the safety of refugees and highlighted KISEDP and KDRDIP as examples of such programmes.
He revealed that under a new programme dubbed Nashiriki Plan, the government would transform Kakuma and Dadaab camps into permanent settlements and support the self-reliance of the over 600,000 refugees.
The PS asked refugees to abide by the laws of Kenya and stated that crimes such as contraband business and the sale of illicit brews would not be accepted to ensure harmonious coexistence.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi thanked Kenya for agreeing to host refugees. “You embraced peace and chose generosity towards your brothers and sisters coming from difficult circumstances,” he said.
He acknowledged that refugees and host communities still faced challenges but commended the County Government for choosing a “visionary path” in supporting the integration programme.
Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo asked partners to implement effective integration and appealed for the government to extend timelines of the World Bank-funded Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (KDRDIP), which he said was part of the solution to addressing challenges faced by the host community.
Swiss Ambassador to Kenya Valentin Zellweger, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, and Commissioner for the Department of Refugee Services John Burugu also spoke during the event.
MCAs present were Julius Apuron (Kalobeyei), Gilbert Topos (Lopur), Francis Ng’imusia (Letea) and Anarclet Lemuya (Lobei/Kotaruk). Senior County Government officials accompanying the Governor included Turkana West Sub-County Administrator Christine Nalemsekon and Chief of Staff Peter Yoromoe.