Factors influencing integration of refugees into the local community in Dadaab, Garissa County, Kenya
For refugees and internally displaced persons forced to flee their homes, there are only three durable solutions: voluntary return, resettlement and local integration. Ideally, local integration affords refugees and IDPs opportunities to protect their fundamental rights, to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life of the local community and to enjoy a basic standard of living. Those who flee persecution and conflict often lose everything. Providing them with an opportunity to access education, employment, training and social services, builds their capacity to return home, if conditions allow, and rebuild their communities (Jesuit Refugee Services, 2006). In Kenya, a country that today is home to more than 625,250 refugees according to (UNHCR, 2014), there has been significant attention on the plight of refugees living in overcrowded camps such as Dadaab in the north east of the country. Yet there has been little focus on the growing number of refugees living in its urban centres. Related literature review on several factors which influence the process of integration namely: family support systems, knowledge of local language, socio-cultural factors and government support systems makes up part of the research. The research employed descriptive survey design and both qualitative and quantitative survey designs with the data collected using key-in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGD‘s). The quantitative data from the study was summarized and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) where tables were generated to assist the researcher answer the research questions. Other information derived from key informers and FGD‘s was content analyzed using qualitative method. The main findings of the study was that a higher percentage of refugees are those that came into the country after the enactment of the Kenya refugee act 2006 which gave provisions for integration into local communities compared to those who came into the country prior to that. This however has not influenced the choice of the majority of refugees on a permanent solution to their situation as refugees since a greater number of the refugees prefer going back to their country of origin compared to integrating into local communities. It became apparent that there is no clear opinion on if life outside the camps for refugees is something to pursue. This was apparent even though a sizeable number of refugees seemed to know that of refugees who had integrated. The study established that family support systems which include emotional support, financial support, separation and family role, play a key role in the process of integration though emotional support did not come out strongly as a major factor. The study established that language influences local integration of refugees into local communities in Dadaab showing communication is a key ingredient for any refugee seeking integration. Social-cultural factors influence local integration of refugees into local communities in Dadaab since sharing the same beliefs as the local community, importance of family ties, sharing the same clan, inter-marriage-ability with the local community and sharing the same religion with the local community proved to be key ingredients of the refugee community as well as the local community. The study established that government support systems play the greatest role in facilitating local integration of refugees into local communities. It was noted that the legislation that legalized refugee integration was ambiguous and not clear enough for any refugee to follow. Even though the refugees felt satisfied with the security the government provided at the camp level, had their rights protected, the financial provision was insufficient to pursue integration. There is an elaborate framework under which DRA and other NGO‘s utilize in catering for the needs of refugees in the camps. However when it comes to the question of integration into the local community there are bottle necks in that both the government through DRA and other NGO‘s are lacking in policy which informs resource allocation and facilitation.