Source: The Star (Nairobi)
By HASSAN MOHAMED
Ethiopia last week passed a law allowing one million refugees to move out of their camps, attend regular schools and to travel and work across the country.
They can also to formally register births, marriages and deaths and have access to financial services such as banking.
These changes assure refugees of a dignified life in the wake of dwindling global support for them as a result of donor fatigue and funding priorities. It is a win-win situation and a smart way of making refugees self-reliant, while also positively contributing to Ethiopia’s economy by paying taxes.
Kenya is home to around half a million refugees half of who are from Somalia living in squalid camps in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Majority of the refugees in Kenya have been in the country for over two or three decades.
Imagine if Kenya borrowed a leaf from Ethiopia and allowed those refugees to study, work and invest in the country? How much will they have contributed to the Kenyan economy?
In February 2017, some 1,176 Makondes living in Kenya’s Coast region since Independence were officially recognised as Kenya’s 43rd tribe by President Uhuru Kenyatta and are now Kenyan citizens. The Makonde were originally brought by British settlers from Southern Tanzania and Mozambique to work in sisal and sugar plantations.
Now, if the Makondes were finally rewarded, why can’t the Burundian, Rwandese, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Sudanese, South Sudanese, Congolese and other refugees who have lived peacefully in Kenya be assimilated and accepted as Kenyans?