475,412 (UNHCR, January 2019)
Number of refugees
49,699.862 (WPP 2017)
0.555 (UNDP)
Human development index
5.8% (World Bank)
GDP growth
11% (World Bank)
Unemployment rate



Kenya has been hosting refugees since 1970 with the numbers increasing significantly from 1990 onwards due to the influx of refugees from Somalia and South Sudan. Kenya currently hosts 475,412[1] refugees making it one of the biggest refugee-hosting countries in Africa after Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. The majority of the refugees originate from Somalia (54.5%) and South Sudan (24.4%) with the remainder from Democratic Republic of Congo (8.8%), Ethiopia (5.9%), with the remainder from Sudan, Rwanda, Eritrea, Burundi and Uganda.

44% of the refugees in Kenya reside in Dadaab refugee camp in the East near the Somali border, 40 % live in Kakuma and Kalobeyei settlement in the North-West near the border with South Sudan and 16 % in urban areas (mainly Nairobi).

Towards a more comprehensive refugee response

Towards a more comprehensive refugee response

On 19 September 2016, all 193 Member States of the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and its Annex I, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).  The following day, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, the Government of Kenya committed [2] to:

  • Enhance refugees’ self-reliance and inclusion in Kenya, specifically by pledging to support the development of the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement to benefit refugees and residents of Turkana County
  • Facilitate the legal status for refugees with legitimate claims to citizenship and/or residency in Kenya through marriage or parentage
  • Implement the “Guidelines on Admission of Non-Citizens to Institutions of Basic Education and Training in Kenya,” which will facilitate school enrollment of refugees and other non-citizens in Kenyan schools.

Application of comprehensive responses

Building on the pledges made by the Government at the Leaders’ Summit, the formal application of the CRRF in Kenya was announced following the 68th Session of UNHCR’s Executive Committee in October 2017. Among the progressive steps that followed the formal announcement as CRRF country is the inclusion of refugees in the draft County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP) of Turkana and Garissa; and the eligibility missions hosted for the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) 18 sub-window for refugees. The new UN Development Assistance Framework 2018-2022 (UNDAF) for the first time fully integrates refugees and stateless persons as target populations of the Plan.

In addition to applying comprehensive responses to refugee movements inside its borders, Kenya has played a pivotal role in regional efforts to pursue a common approach for the Somali refugee situation.  In March 2017, the Government hosted the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Special Summit on the protection and durable solutions for Somali refugees and reintegration of returnees in Somalia, where all IGAD Member States adopted the Nairobi Declaration on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and Reintegration of returnees in Somalia (also known as the Nairobi Declaration). Kenya participated in IGAD’s first inter-ministerial thematic meeting with a focus on Education, where IGAD Member States adopted the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education, committing to refugee inclusion in national systems across the region by 2020. In March 2018, Kenya’s Refugee Affairs Secretariat which acts as the focal point for the CRRF roll-out in Kenya, shared the draft of its national action plan to implement the Nairobi Declaration as part of the CRRF Road Map. The draft CRRF Road Map is currently subject to internal consultations within various line ministries and national and county authorities. Building on the IGAD’s Djibouti Declaration on regional refugee education (December 2017), the Ministry of Education is also developing a Refugee Education Inclusion Policy. The whole of society –approach is actively applied to the CRRF in Kenya with a broad number of stakeholders actively engaged, as witnessed during the recent workshop organized by civil society in May 2018.[3]

Latest developments

  • Refugees included in planning for Kenya’s new UN Development Assistance Framework 2018-2022

In line with the CRRF approach, and based on the “leave no one behind’ principle, UNHCR ensured along with the participation from Refugee Affairs Secretariat and other stakeholders, that the status and needs of the refugee population, the refugee hosting population, stateless persons and migrants were reflected in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2018-2022 that was finalized in June 2018. The UN translated the consultative process and its guiding principles – utilizing UN mandates and comparative advantage – to develop a framework that feeds into the Sustainable Development Goals, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Big Four agenda. This is also in line with the Government’s Medium Term Plan (MTP) III and the strategic direction of UN Country Team. Interventions for the persons of concern are reflected under respective outcome areas which mirror various activities implemented at sectoral level by UNHCR and partners

  • UNHCR and Turkana County Government in Kenya launch a new development plan benefiting refugees and locals

UNHCR and the Government of Turkana County in northern Kenya launched a new development plan, the ‘Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Program’ known as KISEDP which hopes to ensure that refugees and local communities benefit from services such as education and healthcare, and  increased socio-economic opportunities, all anchored in building the skills and capacity of refugees and the Kenyans together.

  • For the first time, the Turkana and Garissa County Integrated Development Plans include refugees

The Turkana and Garissa County Integrated Development Plans, which guide all development activities in Turkana and Garissa County for the period 2018-2022, now include refugees.  This has set a precedent for greater inclusion of refugees in development plans, in the spirit of comprehensive responses

Key partnerships

The World Bank is among key partners to support comprehensive responses in Kenya. The already ongoing Kenya Displacement Response Development Initiative Project (KDRDIP) in the refugee hosting counties is funded through a loan of $100 million to the Government for a period of five years which supports the host communities through a community driven development approach that is complementary to UNHCR programmes in Dadaab and Kakuma.

In line with the objective of CRRF “improving refugee self-reliance” approach, UNHCR Kenya continues to engage with the Private Sector including MasterCard, Google, Vodafone, Safaricom, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce,  Kuza Biashara and Equity Bank in seeking innovation and inclusion for refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. Under the partnership with Equity Bank, refugees in Kalobeyei settlement are being provided with cash which is enabling families to fulfil their permanent shelter needs in a more dignified manner. Equity uses a wallet debit card, which is being considered the best solution in terms of characteristics and potential opportunities vis-a-vis current and future cash based transfer system. The card was introduced and continues to be used in commercial partnership with Equity Bank such as providing financial services to refugees engaged in business or entrepreneurship in both Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement. The bank is participating in this programme of cash assistance through which the refugees can transact across the country with Equity Agents, ATM machines, and over the counters.

UNHCR and the World Bank are working together on data collection and research to facilitate evidence-based decision-making towards greater economic inclusion of refugees. The World Bank report “Yes in my backyard? The economics of refugees and their social dynamics in Kakuma, Kenya” (December 2016) analyses the economic and social impact of refugees on the host communities in Kakuma refugee camp and, based on the positive economic impact of refugees in the area, makes the case for the socio-economic inclusion of refugees.

In follow up, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and UNHCR launched the study “Kakuma as a Marketplace” on 4 May 2018. The study found that Kakuma’s economy is worth $56 million dollars annually based on consumer spending. Kakuma’s population size combining refugees and hosts is equivalent to Kenya’s tenth largest city, with a vibrant informal economy. It is hoped that the study will support continued evidence-based engagement by various stakeholders, in transforming refugee assistance in Kenya for mutual benefit of both refugees and host communities.

Contact persons for the CRRF in the UNHCR Office in Kenya:

Ivana Unluova:, Mans Fellesson: and Salwa Asmat:


[1] As of  January 2019.

[2]Please see the overview document of the Leaders’ Summit pledges here and in the IGAD Annex.

[3]“Understanding and maximizing the whole-of-society approach for the CRRF roll-out in Kenya”, workshop organized by the Refugee Consortium of Kenya and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies in Nairobi, 17 May 2018 attended by the Kenyan Government and fifteen NGOs from the region (Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda).

Operational and funding needs to deliver on a comprehensive refugee response

Funding: The UNHCR Kenya Operation requires USD 191.1 million for its refugee response in 2018.

55% has been funded thus far.

Resettlement needs: 4,500 planning figure in 2018




View all highlights


Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Program (KISEDP) Overview -Kenya

4 MB

Published: 6 May, 2018 (3 weeks ago )
Uploaded: 6 May, 2018 (3 weeks ago )

CRRF poster – Africa, December 2018

Chad Djibouti East and Horn of Africa Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somali Situation Uganda Zambia | CRRF posters
474 KB

This poster provides an overview of key developments in the African countries that are applying comprehensive refugee responses.

Published: 6 May, 2018 (2 months ago )
Uploaded: 6 May, 2018 (2 months ago )

UNHCR-UNICEF joint webinar on Comprehensive Refugee Responses Framework (October 2018) 

Uganda Kenya Africa East and Horn of Africa South Africa Southern Africa and the Great Lakes | Presentations
7 MB

Mass displacement across the world continues to grow. Over the last decade, the number of child refugees has more than doubled. The CRRF is a vision for a more predictable and comprehensive response to refugee crises. This PowerPoint was used during the UNHCR and UNICEF joint Webinar of introduction to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) on Tuesday, 9th October 2018.

Published: 6 May, 2018 (3 months ago )
Uploaded: 6 May, 2018 (3 months ago )

Bridging the Humanitarian-Development Divide for Refugee Children in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region: Mapping existing national child protection practice (May 2018)

East and Horn of Africa Southern Africa and the Great Lakes Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Sudan Tanzania (United Republic of) Uganda | Studies and reports
1 MB

This study is the result of a joint initiative between UNHCR Regional Service Centre/Division of International Protection and UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa. This document was jointly commissioned by the UNHCR Regional Service Centre and the Division of International Protection and the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. The study explores the nexus between humanitarian and development approaches to child protection and explores practical ways this divide can be bridged.

Published: 6 May, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 6 May, 2018 (4 months ago )

Affiche du CRRF - Afrique, août 2018

Chad Djibouti Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somali Situation Uganda Zambia | CRRF posters
504 KB

Cette affiche donne un aperçu des principaux développements dans les pays africains qui appliquent des réponses globales pour les réfugiés.

Published: 6 May, 2018 (5 months ago )
Uploaded: 6 May, 2018 (5 months ago )

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