Factors influencing the relationship between urban refugees and host community: a case of Ethiopian refugees in Eastleigh, Nairobi county, Kenya
Aster Bekele Gessesse
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Refugees fleeing conflict or persecution at home seek refuge in towns or cities in other countries. The current statistics of UNHCR states that, over half of the world‟s refugees now live in the slums of some of the world‟s biggest cities. Of the world‟s 10.5 million refugees, an estimated 6 million reside in urban areas. Refugees are moving; the reason for some refugee‟s movement to urban area is in the hope of finding safety and economic independence. Others move to urban areas out of necessity; to access specialized health services that do not exist in refugee camps, or because they have been targeted for abuse and harassment in refugee camps. This study focused on the factors influencing the relationship between Ethiopian urban refugees in Eastleigh, Nairobi County, Kenya and the host community. The objectives of the study include: to establish economic status of Ethiopian urban refugees and its influence on the relationship with the host community; to establish the influence of socio-cultural differences on the relationship between the Ethiopian urban refugees and host community; to determine the influence of perceived security risk on the relationship between Ethiopian urban refugees and host community and to assess the influence of competition for social amenities on the relationship between Ethiopian urban refugees and host community. Two theories were used for the study namely; theory of cultural deficit theory and conflict theory. The target population in this study is Ethiopian urban refugees residing in Eastleigh estimated to be 2,000, with a sample size 285, calculated by Yamane 1967 formula. In this research cluster sampling technique was used. Data was collected using questionnaires with Likert scale that are labeled as strongly agree, agree, uncertain, disagree and strongly disagree. In addition, schedules interview was used for NGO personnel based in Eastleigh, local administration officer of Eastleigh and the host community in the study area. Validity of the study was measured using content and construct validity, while reliability was measured using test and retest method. The data collected was analyzed by both qualitative and quantitative data collection method. The findings of the study indicate that the urban refugee‟s economic status influences that of the host community and there is strong evidence that refugees are discriminated in social places due to the perception that hosting refugees affects the culture of the host community. The study also provided evidence that there is insecurity in the neighborhood where the urban refugees reside among host community. There is also strong evidence that urban refugees share social amenities that are provided for host community, resulting in scarcity of social amenities. Thus, the study conclude that economic status, socio-cultural differences, perceived security risk and competition for social amenities influence the relationship between urban refugees and host community. The findings from the study might be useful to the host government in designing ways to strengthen positive refugee-host relations, and hence to implement its commitment to protect the rights of refugees, by ensuring that refugees receive adequate protection, the host government shall enable urban refugees to establish more assertive and equitable relationship with the host community. In addition the findings might also be useful to UNHCR, international and local NGOs.
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