KENYA: US Secretary of States John Kerry visits UNHCR, speaks to students in Dadaab Refugee Camp via Skype


KENYA: US Secretary of States John Kerry visits UNHCR, speaks to students in Dadaab Refugee Camp via Skype

UNHCR, 04 May 2015

NAIROBI, 4 May 2015 (UNHCR) – US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, visited UNHCR Representation Office in Kenya, accompanied by a delegation of senior officials from the US Government.

Mr. Kerry expressed his utmost appreciation and respect for the work done by UNHCR in Kenya.

The Representative, Mr. Raouf Mazou, in turn conveyed UNHCR's gratitude to Mr. Kerry the US Government’s continued support to refugee operations in Kenya.

The Secretary of State met with refugee leaders from the Dadaab refugee camps who discussed their challenges, concerns and aspirations with the visiting delegation.

Mr. Kerry assured the refugees that the United States Government, as part of the international community, hears and understands their concerns, and would like to ensure that refugees continue to be protected, and that those who choose to return home voluntarily do so in conditions of safety and dignity.

He held a discussion on Skype with students of Tawakal Secondary School in Dagahaley one of the five refugee camps in the Dadaab complex. Mr. Kerry thanked the students for talking to him and sharing their thoughts about their concerns and future.

19 year old Mohamed Adow Ahmed, a refugee from Somalia, who has lived in Dadaab for the past nine years said, in response a question from Mr. Kerry, “The biggest challenges are security and the forceful repatriation issues that the Kenyan government announced recently. If we are taken back in this way, our future is in a dilemma.”

Mr. Kerry also heard the testimony of Fatuma Farah Abdi a 15 year old Somali refugee girl who was born in Dadaab and has lived all her life as a refugee. “I study so many subjects like business, chemistry, history, biology and so many others. I want to study to be a doctor. If I get peace I will go back to Somalia,” Fatuma told Secretary Kerry.

To which Mr. Kerry responded, “You will need the skills that you got now. It’s very valuable to be doing what you are doing. What we need to do is to try to figure out how to provide more education opportunities beyond where you are now.”

Mr. Kerry told the students, “I have great respect for what you are trying to do (getting an education) under very difficult circumstances. I am here today to learn more about the difficulties and challenges you are facing and how do you think we can help make a difference. I really respect that you are at school; you are trying to learn.”