Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Letter from the editor

Posted in Letter from the Editor by KANERE on December 31, 2018

Dear KANERE readers,

I was recently speaking to a friend who was unfamiliar with KANERE. I described the newsletter as “unique,” and when asked what makes KANERE different from other publications in Kakuma, my response was quick: its independence. There are a number of so-called “refugee magazines” that operate in the camp. They are branded with the refugee label but are run by humanitarian agency staff like Film Aid. These organizations are funded by the UN Refugee Agency, and it is in their interest to shape the portrayal of refugee camps in Kenyan and international media to convey a “humanitarian-positive” view. Such narratives are not attuned to the perspectives and opinions of refugees themselves. This is how KANERE is different: its independence allows it to attend to refugees’ interests in a manner that is not mediated by agencies and external institutions.

Of course, there have been hurdles in sustaining this publication. When I moved from Kenya to Canada in 2017, most of my former responsibilities were passed to the incoming editor Elias Lemma. Elias then left for the US shortly thereafter under the refugee resettlement program. This was welcome news and a positive turning point in Elias’s life, as he had remained in Kakuma for nearly 15 years, despite his critical protection needs as an exiled journalist. But these transitions caused some setbacks, interrupting the smooth operation of the newspaper. Nonetheless, the KANERE team remained passionate about their reporting tasks. In early 2018, Elias transferred the editorial roles to G. Ibrahim, who is currently the managing editor of KANERE, leading the team of young and dedicated refugee journalists and reporters in Kakuma.

For refugees who are largely dependent on aid rations for survival, life in a camp like Kakuma is a series of ups and downs. The very existence of the camp, established in 1991, is a failure of the international law and a tacit acceptance of refugee warehousing. But within this context, there have been both positive and negative developments in terms of service delivery and the pursuit of durable solutions to the protracted displacement. This issue provides a lens on several of these developments.

The implementation of an innovative technological application of refugee verification known as Kiosk to Access Services and Information (KASI) has supported communication between refugees and agency staff. Agencies are promoting KASI as a way to allow refugees to access key information in their files. But for many refugees, lack of mobile phones and computer literacy remains a challenge.

The repatriation programs for refugees from Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi continue to provide a means for people to return to their countries of origin. These programmes are intended to be implemented strictly on a voluntary basis, but for many refugees’ personal and social circumstances, these countries remain unsafe for return.

Along with several other stories, we have also included a security update pertaining to the death of two refugees by gunshot wounds in Kakuma, which followed incidences of alleged robbery by violence.

As always, we welcome comments, opinions, criticisms and expert contributions to our editorial section, which can be submitted to us at kakuma.news@gmail.com.

As we move into 2019, Happy New Year from all of us at KANERE!


Qaabata Boru, Elias Lemma & G. Ibrahim
KANERE Editorial Team

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