Danish Development Cooperation Minister Ulla Tørnæs shares a word with Nyalok Chany. Photo: DRC

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation visits Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tørnæs visited Kakuma refugee camp on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2017. During that time, the Minister and her delegation got an opportunity to tour several programmes by various humanitarian agencies including Danish Refugee Council’s (DRC) Youth Centre in Kakuma.

The visit focused on reception of refugees as well as on integration programs aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence between refugees and host community in preparation for eventual durable solutions. Education for refugee children was a focus area for the Minister and while at Kalobeiyei – a new settlement area created on the outskirts of Kakuma refugee camp, the delegation visited a primary school and interacted with refugee pupils who have fled from the ongoing crisis in South Sudan.

DRC’s Kenya Country Director, David Kang’ethe and DRC’s East Africa and Yemen Regional Director, Heather Amstutz were among those who accompanied the Danish delegation that toured Kakuma and Kalobeiyei settlement. The delegation visited a Youth Center in Kakuma 4 camp established by DRC where they interacted with young refugees engaged in creative arts as well as women and girls who have benefitted from DRC’s mentorship programme.

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Danish Minister for Development Cooperation during her visit of a school in Kalobeiyei. Photo: DRC. 

The Youth Center was established in 2015 to cater to growing numbers of young adults in Kakuma who sought out creative arts spaces to express themselves. The Minister was briefed on DRC’s youth programmes that offer vocational skills training and promote protection to the youth who form a majority of the population in Kakuma 4.

The Minister concluded the mission by visiting a family of 30 year-old Nyalok Chany who fled from Unity State and arrived in Kakuma in 2014 where DRC provided her with counselling and material support in the form of core relief items as well as training on the Village Savings and Loans (VSL) methodology. Nyalok is currently the sole caregiver for eight children of her own alongside three separated minors and a step-son.

“I am very thankful to DRC for the training I received on VSL. My children can now attend school because of the business I have been able to start up after receiving a small grant from DRC,” said Nyalok

Nyalok together with other 17 refugee women mentors have been given a small grant of 500 USD as a group by DRC to start a small business that is enabling them to earn a livelihood and take care of their families. Nyalok’s group have started a food vending business where they are supplying food to agencies and occasionally to various hotels in Kakuma camp. Nyalok has since taken on the role of mentoring young refugee girls in Kakuma through DRC’s mentorship programme. 

The Danish Minister was accompanied during the visit by among others; Danish Ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen, Chair of Foreign Affairs Committee, Mogens Lykketoft, DRC’s Executive Committee Chair Stig Glent-Madsen, Assistant Representative (Protection) UNHCR Kenya Ms. Catherine Hamon Sharpe as well as the Head of UNHCR’s Sub-Office Kakuma, Ms. Honorine Sommet-Lange. 

DRC has been in operation in Kakuma since April 2014 in response to the influx of South Sudanese refugees following the eruption of violence in South Sudan in mid-December 2013. At the initial stages, DRC provided protection assistance to the South Sudanese children but this has since evolved to a broader response to community protection needs and provision of livelihood development opportunities aimed at enhancing the self-reliance of refugees and the host community. In 2016, DRC expanded programming into Kalobeyei through gender based violence prevention and response interventions targeting new arrivals into the settlement.