“It Is Better to Be a Refugee Than a Turkana in Kakuma”: Revisiting the Relationship between Hosts and Refugees in Kenya

Ekuru Aukot


The article echoes stories and perceptions of the hosts to the refugees in their day-to-day relations in Kakuma refugee camp with little emphasis on academic abstraction of refugee protection contained in international instruments but rather on the realities on the ground. It is argued that good refugee-host relations enhance refugees’ enjoyment of their rights under the international conventions and promote local integration. The article discusses areas of conflict between refugees and their hosts and how these factors endanger refugees’ physical protection, and it echoes the hosts’ solutions to the conflicts. The failure of local integration is attributed to poor refugee-host relations. Consequently, it is argued that even the enactment of refugee specific legislation “that would give force” to the international conventions will not necessarily improve refugees’ enjoyment of their rights as long as, through a practice of selective compassion by humanitarian agencies and international refugee law, refugees are targeted for assistance without regard to the negative impact on the local economy and its residents.

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