Towards An Understanding Of Conflict Between Refugees And Host Communities: A Case Study Of Dadaab District Of Garissa County, Kenya 1991-201
Refugee-host conflict is not a recent phenomenon in Kenya. Its origin in the Kenyan history can be traced way back to the emergence of colonization. For long, Kenya was one of a few African States which have acted as home to many refugees. For instance since the late eighties, Kenya experienced an increasing influx of displaced people, as a result of the continued conflict in Uganda after 1986, and later in Ethiopia and Somalia 1990-91, saw the crossing of 400,000 Somalis Refugee combined with the arrival of a large group of Sudanese young men who came walking from Ethiopian camps after their stay there was no longer safe. Initially up to 1990, the attitude and response of national governments towards refugee presence consisted of active hostility and the passing of tough, stringent regulations to restrict refugee movement to designated camps. Since 1991/1992 however, governments were forced to acknowledge refugees because Kenya is a signatory to the UN conventions on rights of Refugees. The refugee had a right to being hosted in a safe environment where the international community can access them. The continued existence of the problem of refugees has posed many questions to scholars regarding the mechanism of managing refugees in host countries like Kenya. This is, particularly, so considering the complex interactions between the local community and the refugees, land and housing markets as well as the legal, economic and cultural forces at play. Considering the fact that the refugees exist within the social structure of the host country, this study used available empirical evidence documented data, and the related experiences of informant on conflict between the refugees and the host community. Information particularly on land use helped in gaining an understanding of social, economic, racial or ethnic, legal, political and cultural divides that have contributed to conflict between the refugees and their hosts. The consequences of these dynamics and other implications of sustaining refugees as well as the challenges encountered in the sustainability of refugee’s programmes and possible policy directions are highlighted. The study concludes that good land management is crucial for the achievement and promotion of effective functioning of relationship between refugees and their host in order to sustain and boost the social, economic, physical and cultural well being of all parties concerned.