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Friday, October 1, 2010

The Standard | Online Edition :: Refugees a thorn in the flesh of ID searching Kenyans

The Standard | Online Edition :: Refugees a thorn in the flesh of ID searching Kenyans

Refugees a thorn in the flesh of ID searching Kenyans

By Peter Opiyo

The refugee problem in the northern part of the country is complicating the issuance of Identification Cards to deserving Kenyans.

Apparently, Kenyans who have applied for the document flock refugee camps in search of money and food before they secure the vital document.

While at the camps they are registered by the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees and their bio-data reflected at the Immigration headquarters in Nairobi, thus blocking chances of their success.

Responding to a question by Mandera East MP, Mohammed Hussein, Immigration Assistant Minister Francis Baya, on Wednesday said 2,013 applications were rejected after their details were captured on the refugees data base.

He said 9,220 applications were received between January2008 and September 2010. The Minister said though some of the applicants are given a clean bill of health by the Vetting Committees on the ground, they immediately go to refugee camps where they are registered as refugees, before processing of their applications starts.

Nominated MP, Sophia Abdi, acknowledging the problem, challenged the government to nullify the UN identification documents in cases where Kenyans are found to have registered in the camps.

Baya said the government is ready to assist them saying, “Kenyans who are sure they are Kenyans can be assisted.”

Hussein, Nominated MP, Sheikh Dor, Ikolomani MP, Bony Khalwale and Samburu East MP, Raphael Letimalo, accused the government of employing vetting procedure that discriminates against Kenya-Somalis.

Baya, said the procedure employed is only special to border districts to monitor influx of refugees and other foreigners.

Mt Elgon MP, Fred Kapondi dismissed the minister’s explanations as misleading pointing out that Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which he chairs, visited Dadaab refugee camp in Garissa where refugees testified that they possess ID cards. He attributing this to corruption within the immigration department.

“They (refugees) get them through corruption and this should not be used to discriminate against Kenya-Somalis,” he said.

Mumias MP, Benjamin Washiali asked the ministry to tame the influx of illegal immigrants saying they deny Kenyans opportunity to get IDs

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