Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Community Talking Point: Refugee Camp Constitution and Election

Posted in Community and Culture, Uncategorized by KANERE on April 16, 2012

KANERE talks to community leaders about their diverse perspectives on the New Camp Constitution and Election.

“The community has welcomed the idea of a new Camp Constitution. Tribalism and religious interest do not constitute a good match with the current constitutional system. We need change in leadership from the community to the camp levels. It is important that people be liberated from the chain of ethnicity. “
- Ugandan Community Leader

“I want to welcome the new constitution. This is a new kind of structure that we never had before in this camp. Every block will have ten block representatives who will work in cooperation. I also hope that this will be the time that youth will have a chance to participate in leadership and governance to reform our society. “
- F. Said, Overall Somali Youth Leader at Kakuma Camp.

“I strongly oppose the new rules of the camp. It’s a dictatorial regime that imposed on the minority the will of the majority. In my view, the camp should be governed by the laws of the country not new rules of its kind. That is why the Constitution will have a negative impact. Knowledge and knowing one’s rights is what can make us intelligent.”
- Anonymous UNHCR Refugee Interpreter

“A power shift will not be realistic, I think. This may not be true but elected leaders can be controlled like puppets. A true governor should have decision-making power over anything which affects the community negatively or positively.”
- A. Thomas, Kakuma 2 Primary School Teacher

“There is a bureaucratic interest in this structure. This is not a well-defined constitution. Politics will take over within the communities. In this context, I would also wish to know what the law states in the Bill of Rights regarding refugee protection, which is a civil and political right in any democratic governance.”
- Ethiopian KANERE Writer

“Kakuma leadership should be changed. The camp has existed for over 21 years and it comprises many nationalities from all over Africa. We need to have a centralized leadership.”
- Multinational Community Leader, Kakuma 3

“I oppose this Constitution. It will not be easy to manage refugees of different nationalities, languages, diverse cultures and religious affiliations under one administration. This will increase conflict over scarce resources like water. In my opinion it’s more important for UNHCR to give proper attention to refugee voices in the camp.”
- Ethiopian Community Leader, Kakuma1

“The new idea is not bad, but my concern is about the implementation of the Constitution. This is going to create a unit where opportunities can be shared equally. I feel that the existence of many community leaders has expanded corruption and discrimination.”
- Ethiopian, Ogaden Community Leader.

“I support the new camp Constitution. I have read it. I was a member of the drafting committee that established the Constitution in 2011. This system can provide people with rights over and access to service deliveries. There was too much confusion in the past. When the time comes we want to elect a leader who is just, equal, educated and capable to lead the camp as one!”
- Somali Community Leader and a Contester at Kakuma1 Zone1 Block8

“I am for both new leadership and the new Constitution. It’s based on blocks which can help to identify the most vulnerable members in each community. The election will be highly competitive among contesters who are already aware of possible compensation for their service. In the past, community leaders have not been compensated for all the work they do as their position has been on a voluntary basis. That gave fodder to abuse and violations.”
- B. Wechtour, Secretary to Ethiopian Nuer Community.

“I am opposing this Constitution as it is favoring a particular national majority. I think refugees should stay without an overall leader. I want to suggest that the local administration blocks should remain as governing blocks in refugee communities because they will not have the power to decide anything.”
- C. Atem, Kakuma1 Hongkong Area

“I am for the camp Constitution as it can promote togetherness, peaceful co-existence and human rights. These new rules can lead refugees at Kakuma to govern themselves and their community as one large society guided by refugee fraternity. I only hope that the election will be free and fair.”
- P. Nhial, Sudanese Community Leader, Kakuma1

“I oppose the constitution. Not even 1% of the camp population is aware about this idea so it should be pushed to 2013. These are the rules of one person, one pen and one chair. Refugees are vulnerable. Oppression, corruption and bribes will increase under the regime of one governor. People do not have proper knowledge of this constitution as a large portion of th population is illiterate. That is why the rule-makers are taking advantage of our vulnerability.”
- S. Bashir, Somali Darod Community Leader

“I simply oppose it. We should call off this election. The Community must think critically about the current Constitution before undertaking this election. Multinational difference is not easy to overcome in overnight. I suggest that communities remain under the previous leadership and community governance.”
- Gabriel, Sudanese Youth Leader in Kakuma1

“I am against the Constitution and the election. These are two major things but have been combined together within a very short time. Why? What will be the long-term consequences after these laws are passed? People should know what is happening. They should also give their consent to stop negative effects in the future.”
- G. Mohamed, Arupe Distance Learning Student

“I don’t know what will be the outcome. There should be clear criteria for verifying candidates. People in the various blocks and zones should understand it and be able to know what is expected of them. This will be empowering for them – to know who to vote for and why.”
- Congolese Incentive Staff at NGO

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One Response

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  1. dr jiok said, on June 25, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I am hereby really welcoming the new camp leaderships structure made by the office of united nations high commissioner for refugees, i hope with this new leadership, refugees would really obtain togetherness as well as peaceful co-existence from all refugees blocks or communities. thereafter we are all required to supported it widely and honestly for the betterment of our camp polices. see you all during the blocks elections?

    I am Jiok


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