Ag. Commissioner for Refugee Affairs in his office at the RAS headquarters.
The Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) is a statutory body established under Section 6 of the Refugee Act 2006 and which is mandated to undertake the management and assistance of refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Among the major services offered by the Refugee Affairs Secretariat are to receive and register refugees and asylum seekers and to issue them with important documentation.
For decades, Kenya has been host to over 600,000 refugees who reside mainly in the two refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma for decades. The number has gone down by a huge margin due to the ongoing voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees which started on 8th December 2014.
In March 2014, the government directed that all refugees must reside in the designated camps of Kakuma and Dadaab may only be allowed to leave the camp with permission from the Commissioner for Refugee Affairs. The Commissioner may allow refugees to travel out of the refugee camps for purposes of medical services, education, employment or business, resettlement, security threats, among other compelling reasons.
It is important to note that refugee status is a temporary status and Kenya promotes the voluntary repatriation as the best durable solution for refugees. We continue to advocate for enabling environment for refugees to return home to build their lives and nation. Currently, the voluntary repatriation process for Somali refugees is ongoing for those who voluntarily want to return to Somalia.
Refugee hosting is an international monumental task that requires global solutions. In this regard, Kenya urges the international community to continue helping refugees through the expansion of resettlement opportunities and other complimentary pathways. This is in a bid to ease the burden on host nations like Kenya.