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US to review refugee programme in Kenya

By Kevin J Kelley
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Refugee children look on in Kakuma refugee camp, North-Western Kenya on September 6, 2010. Kakuma refugee camp is home to 72,000 refugees, including the 15,000 Southern Sudanese and 40,000 Somalis. The rest are Ethiopians, Rwandans, and Burundians among other countries. Photo/FILE

The head of the US State Department's bureau of refugees is due in Kenya on Wednesday to review operations of a programme that admits refugees to the United States.

Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard will also visit the Kakuma camp - home to more than 100,000 Somali and Sudanese refugees - according to an announcement in Washington.

Kenyan officials will likely press Ms Richard for United States to help in expediting the return of refugees to Somalia.

Somalis who fled war and hunger account for the 630,000 registered refugees in Kenya.

Kenyan officials have called for relocating Somalis to their homeland given that large areas of the country have been liberated from insurgents' control.

In Kakuma and at a US resettlement support centre in Nairobi, Ms Richard will meet staff who prepare refugee applicants for admission to the United States, the State Department said.

A total of 4911 refugees from Somalia were resettled in the United States in the 12-month period ending on September 30. That is the largest number of admitted refugees from any country in Africa.

The President of the United States decides how many refugees worldwide are to be admitted to the United States per year as well as the share of admissions for Africa and other parts of the world.

Another US assistant secretary of state is also scheduled to visit Kenya this week.

Mike Hammer, the head of the department's public affairs unit, will meet with journalists, students, civil society leaders and government spokespersons to discuss support for democratic institutions and freedom of the press, the State Department said on Monday.

Mr Hammer will also travel to Uganda and South Africa. He will "underscore the US government's commitment" to black Africa, the State Department said


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