News / Africa

Somali Refugees in Kenya to Elect New Local Leaders

Dadaab, Kenya mapDadaab, Kenya map
x
Dadaab, Kenya map
Dadaab, Kenya map
— Somali refugees at the Dadaab camps in northeast Kenya are voting in elections for local leaders this week.  The voting is being held as Kenya's government pushes for the refugees to return to their homeland.

More than 160,000 Somali refugees in the refugee camps head to the polls this week to elect just over 1,000 local leaders who will represent them in their respective camps.  The election is expected to end Thursday.

The candidates are competing for the positions of camp leaders, section leaders and block leaders in the five camps.  The voters will elect one male and one female volunteer in each position.

The election is organized by Kenya’s department of refugee affairs, with the U.N. refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations providing assistance to ensure a smooth running of the process.

The UNHCR's Mans Nyberg says lines were long at the polls and 50 percent of the voters in one camp have already cast ballots.

Nyberg says a 50 percent total turnout is expected, compared to the 25 percent in the previous election in 2006.  He says some of the election results in the camp show the voters want change.
 
 “What is very good is that the leaders that were elected in Ifo II camp yesterday, most of them are new leaders, which means that they bring in new blood, new dynamics and new energy into the management of the camps," said Nyberg.

Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.
x
Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.
Newly arrived Somali refugees line up to wait for the reception center to open at Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011.
More than 400,000 Somali refugees live in the Dadaab refugee camps.  The election organizers say the vote is one way of empowering refugees to manage their own affairs and ensure legitimacy of the leadership in the camps.

The elections were scheduled for 2011, but organizers postponed the process, after Somalia was hit by famine and hundreds of thousands of Somalis crossed into Kenya and entered the camps to receive aid assistance.  The humanitarian agencies also say insecurity and kidnapping of their workers in the camps contributed to the postponement.

Nyberg says the election process will help refugees know how to vote and pick the leader of their choice without resorting to violence.

“Many, many of these refugees have never been voting in an election before because they fled from Somalia," said Nyberg. "Many of them, 100,000 of them arrived only two years ago during [the] 2011 emergency and they have been living in Somalia in a civil war with no possibility of experiencing any election.  So this is a very good opportunity for them also to learn about democracy.”
 
Meanwhile, a meeting that was scheduled for this week in Nairobi between the Kenyan and Somali presidents to discuss the return of refugees to Somalia has been postponed to give the Somali government time to consult further on the repatriation of its citizens.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid