UNHCR Processing Delays Refugee’s Study Abroad
Volume 1, Issue 2 / January 2009
Mr. J.M., a Congolese refugee in Kakuma Camp, was awarded an extraordinary scholarship opportunity to pursue a two years master program in medicine at Lund University, Sweden. He was due to begin his programme of study on 12 January 2009. Unfortunately, Mr. J.M. is still present in Kakuma Camp due to UNHCR processing delays.
KANERE interviewed Mr. J.M. about his situation. KANERE also tried to reach the concerned UNHCR official for comment, but he was too busy to schedule an appointment.
KANERE: How did you receive information about your scholarship?
Mr. J.M.: “Through UNHCR Community Services Unit, I got the information about the scholarship opportunity from the European Union.”
KANERE: How did you serve your application?
Mr. J.M.: “I applied through the internet from the scholarship’s website (www.erasmusmundus10.net) on 23 July, 2008.”
KANERE: After applying, what happened?
Mr. J.M.: “I was replied back by the European Union to be accepted, and then transferred my application to Lund University for admission. I was also accepted there. Later on a letter of invitation and financial support was sent to me from Lund University on 14 October 2008. The letter stipulated that I have been accepted to travel to Sweden and should reach Lund University before 12 January 2009. It confirmed that my scholarship award was to be paid in 1,000 Euros per month, for a maximum period of 22 months, and included a return ticket to Kenya.”
KANERE: What next?
Mr. J.M.: “I was told that once I got the invitation letter, I had to go and meet with the Swedish Embassy. They sent me another letter to show to the Sweden High Commissioner to allow me to be granted a visa and therefore get my ticket from Lund University to travel to Sweden.”
KANERE: How far have you gone with the process of getting the Swedish Visa?
Mr. J.M.: “For me to get a visa, I need to have a passport or a CTD (Convention Travel Document). I filled the forms [for a CTD] from an official at UNHCR Protection Unit on 20 October 2008, and have been following up. However, the CTD processing was delayed due to a shortage of CTD booklets at Branch Office Nairobi. Since October I’ve been following up, [but] the UNHCR official always replies for to me to wait.”
KANERE: Now as the deadline has expired, what do you think?
Mr. J.M.: “It’s not yet late, still I can go.” (How?) “I will keep approaching UNHCR for them to release the CTD, which I continue doing even now.”
KANERE: Do you have something to add?
Mr. J.M.: “No, only to ask if you can intervene for me to push UNHCR to release the CTD and allow me to continue my education which is my right, I will surely appreciate. Thanks. This is a pure torture once more. It’s torture because my mind is very much disturbed and morally I’m confused. The right to education has been denied by UNHCR the way it was done to me in DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] when my rights were denied by my own government, which was primarily supposed to provide the full rights I was fighting for.”