MIGRANTS & REFUGEES Perspectives from France, Germany and Kenya
MIGRANTS & REFUGEES Perspectives from France, Germany and Kenya
Contents 01. 07. 11.
MEDIA PANEL DISCUSSION One Image, 3 Perspectives
EXPERT PANEL DISCUSSION Forced Migration: Perceptions and reality
MIGRATION Of Long Treks In The Sand & Makeshift Boats In The Night by Thom Ogonga
Migrants and Refugees: Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya. A photo exhibition illustrating the varying experiences of refugees in the three countries.
Out of the Box A Forum theatre performance where the audience become active ‘spect-actors’
Refugeenius A music concert celebrating talented refugee musicians
How do the three countries and societies of France, Kenya, and Germany – all three of them receiving large numbers of refugees – choose to deal with the situation and how do they attempt to integrate the refugees into their societies? How do artists in these three countries engage with the issue in their work? And the artists among the refugees, what conditions do they need in their host countries to be able to work artistically, and what relevance does the issue of flight and refuge have in their art? Kenya hosts the world‘s allegedly largest refugee camp, Dadaab (338,043 inhabitants1) as well as Kakuma in Turkana (158,253 inhabitants2). In total 600,000 refugees are supposed to be living in Kenya3. In 2015, Germany registered the highest number of first time asylum-seekers (441,800) and France registered 70,600 first time asylum-seekers.4 Given the surge in migrants and refugees, the Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Goethe-Institut Kenya, with the support of the French-German Cultural Fund, and in partnership with the Embassy of France, the Embassy of Germany, UNHCR Kenya, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa and Kenyan artists, presented Critical Conversations on the questions of migration and refuge. A series of discussions and artistic activities which took place from 25th April to 3rd May 2016 in Nairobi, facilitated reflections on the shared and opposing experiences in the treatment of migrants and refugees in these three countries. An art exhibition “Of Ships Passing in The Night”, featuring Kenyan, Somali, South Sudanese, Congolese and Ethiopian artists engaged with the topic of refuge through the visual artists’ lens. A first panel discussion with journalists from the three countries entitled ‘One Image, Three Perspectives’ discussed their editorial policy, their style of writing and ethical standards in reporting on the topic – and how their reporting influences public opinion in their respective countries. Another, with experts on migration, displacement and public policy entitled ‘Forced
Migration: Perceptions and Reality’, discussed the clichés and assumptions that exist in the three countries on the influx of refugees against facts and research findings. A photo exhibition with images from the French and German press agencies, Agence France Presse (AFP) and Deutsche PresseAgentur, and Kenyan photographer Thomas Mukoya, visualized similarities and differences in approach in the three countries to control, embrace and facilitate the lives of refugees. A theatre evening, using the “Theatre of the Oppressed” method, explored both problems with and solutions for societal interaction with refugees. This was followed by a music performance with a selection of musicians classified as refugees and mentored by the Kenyan Hip Hop artist, Octopizzo, to complete the programme. We, the Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Goethe-Institut Kenya, have captured the results and reflections of these Critical Conversations in this publication. The publication aims to recapitulate the perspectives that were presented and, for those of you who could not be there, it is an invitation to join in the conversation on three perspectives and one situation: migration and refuge in France, Germany and Kenya today.
Nairobi, June 2016
Dr. Nina Wichmann Director, Goethe-Institut Kenya
Hervé Braneyre Director, Alliance Française de Nairobi
http://data.unhcr.org/horn-of-africa/region.php?id=3&country=110, 01.09.2016 http://data.unhcr.org/horn-of-africa/settlement.php?id=17&country=110®ion=12, 01.09.2016 3 http://reporting.unhcr.org/node/2537#_ga=1.200445230.148726265.1472717132 4 http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7203832/3-04032016-AP-EN.pdf/790eba01381c-4163-bcd2- a54959b99ed6, 01.09.2016 1 2
MEDIA PANEL One image, three Perspectives
Three journalists spoke about their profession with regard to reporting on the plight of refugees in France, Germany and Kenya, under the headings: “Editorial Policies, Challenges and Benefits”.
Andrea Palasciano (AP) Andrea studied Social Sciences and Journalism at the Paris School of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and at the Columbia University in New York. She has been working with AFP, the third largest news agency in the world, since 2013. At the time of the discussion, she was based at the Africa desk in Paris handling the latest news from all Sub-Saharan Africa correspondents.
Katrin Lindner (KL) Katrin Lindner studied economics at the Technical University Dresden and the University of Stirling in the UK. At the time of discussion she was working as an editor and reporter for the German public-service television broadcaster ZDF, with a regular focus on migration. Adow Mohamed (AM) Adow had worked as a correspondent with “Africa News” based in Accra, Ghana. He had also covered the Pledging Conferences aimed at raising funds for Syrian and Somali refugees that took place in Kuwait and Brussels; respectively in 2015. At the time of the discussion he was a reporter with “The Star” newspaper in Kenya, for which he was writing regular articles on refugees at the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in the country.
According to Article 1 of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is someone who has fled his or her country “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” While the 1951 Convention remains the key legal document defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of governments, the world has changed dramatically over the past 60 years. The distinctions between refugees and migrants and voluntary and involuntary movements are becoming increasingly blurred with the words “migrant” and “refugee” being used interchangeably in public discourse. As the European migrant crisis continues to escalate, politicians, journalists, academics and societies in general are trying to make sense of the phenomenon. The discourses are shaped by different socio-political contexts, policy traditions and national vocabularies. The Alliance Française and the Goethe-Institut Kenya, with the support of the French-German Cultural Fund hosted two panel discussions, including contributions from the floor. Both discussions were moderated by John Sibi-Okumu (JSO), a print, radio and television journalist. The edited excerpts below provide a record of essential interventions.
Editorial Policies John Sibi-Okumu (JSO): May I begin by asking you to talk about your day-to-day work. Now, ZDF is described as a public service broadcaster. Most Kenyans would understand that to mean that your reports reflect the views of your government? Katrin Lindner (KL): No, we are independent. We are not paid by taxes because every household in Germany has to pay a fee to us, the equivalent of
1,700 Kenya shillings per month. Poor households are exempted from paying, but that guarantees us our independence from the government. Andrea Palasciano (AP): Agence France Press, or AFP, is a news agency. We are basically journalists who work for other journalists. We are at the very beginning of the chain in that we are able to provide the main facts that other media sources can draw upon. For example, a newspaper in France may have only one or two correspondents for the region while we have bureaus all over the world. In Africa we have five bureaus and correspondents in every country. Our clients are not only media outlets but also governmental institutions. I am an editor, one of about eight who edit all the news that comes from sub-Saharan countries. We always support them in reporting difficult stories, for example if they have to cross a border in order to cover a coup. Of course, down the line there’s basic grammar and spell checking to ensure that any piece written by our journalists is fit to go to our clients. Adow Mohamed (AM): Our slogan is that ‘The Star’ is the newspaper which is read by smart people. I don’t know how true that is. I have worked there for three years and people have come to know me as ‘the refugee correspondent’. That is how passionate I am about refugee issues. No day ends without my having forwarded two or three articles to the editors pertaining to the topic of refugees. People ask me why I am so passionate about refugees. Well, having grown up in Garissa where the Daadab refugee camp is situated, and being of Somali descent, I have interacted with many refugees. In 2014, I went to the refugee camp and met a mother. She had a business selling khat (miraa). She had a supplier who lived in Meru. Unfortunately, in the course of the business she accrued a debt of close to half a million shillings. She had no way to pay the debt to her supplier. She had no option but to sell her daughter to the man. Such are the stories that highlight the plight of refugees, making me want to hear them out. JSO: How do you check your facts? AP: First of all, we really try not to let our opinions flow into what we write. The basic stone of our news agency is called a ‘dispatch’ and it’s usually very factual. You
start with one fact and then you build on it. Thus, there is very little space for my personal opinion in how I write and how I edit. As for facts, in France, we have seen two tendencies since the refugee crisis. First, media outlets have started to have very strong fact-checking outlets to check numbers. We check our numbers from the official number given by institutions such as the IOM (International Organization for Migration) and we always mention our sources. Obviously, we don’t delve into whether numbers provided by, for example, the UNHCR, are true or not. We also have smaller sources such as lifeguards because some facts need to be gathered at the source. NGOs are also a credible source.
each party gets an equal number of minutes in our broadcast.
AM: A journalist’s opinions do not matter, unless the journalist is writing an opinion piece. When writing a report, it is important to have credible sources. For example, in Kenya we have the government, the Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA), civil societies, activists and refugees themselves.
JSO: Andrea. Do you think that the subject of refugees is granted enough attention in France?
KL: We had the Refugee Welcome Movement in September, where our chancellor said all refugees are very welcome to Germany. We reported a lot about this, we were in every town showing that Germans welcome everyone from Africa and Syria etc. We, however, have part of our society that does not believe that we are telling the truth. We have the PEGIDA movement, which stands for Patriotic Europeans against Islamisation of the West. It was formed in December 2014 and they are against immigration and refugees. They are also anti-Islam. Therefore, we may report that refugees are welcome in Germany whereas PEGIDA doesn’t want them, hence creating debate. In such a case, in point, my opinion will not matter. I have to be as objective and clear as possible. I use the same sources as those used in France and Kenya, but I have to check my sources twice, at the minimum. JSO: So, allow me to ask, Katrin: is there a politically correct view for journalists to adopt? For example, should you give PEGIDA less airtime as compared to the chancellor who welcomes all refugees? KL: Not at all. Each group or individual should be given equal airtime. For example, we count the number of minutes to be taken by any representative of a political party and ensure that at the end of it all,
JSO: In recent times, the refugee crisis has expanded from Africa and Asia into Europe. Would you say this was predictable, Katrin? KL: It is good that you ask that because I always ask politicians how they did not see it coming, yet it was so clear. Failure to notice that would have been a journalistic failure. Before, I focused on economics and politics but after noticing the trend, I started focusing on migration affairs. That was like, two years ago.
AP: I think there has been a steady flow of news concerning refugees, but the situation exploded in 2015 and these topics became more relevant. However, 2015 has been a year where many things happened to France. I’m sure many of you have heard of the terror attacks in Paris, which was obviously the main topic of interest for the year. France has also had a lot of economic issues. It would be safe to say that refugees have not had as much coverage in France as they have in Germany. JSO: Adow. Would you like to comment on the situation in Kenya? AM: In Kenya, it has become a common tendency that any time there’s a terrorist attack, all eyes turn to refugees, even when there is no evidence of their participation. For example, when Garissa University was attacked on April 2nd 2015, the deputy president of Kenya said, and I quote verbatim, “We have asked the UNHCR to relocate the refugees in 3 months, failure to which we will relocate them ourselves. The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa”. The effect of this declaration was so immense that it has been felt all through Kenya. I had to move from Eastleigh, (a part of Nairobi densely populated by Somalis, note by the editor), where I lived. It led to what has come to be known as the Kasarani concentration camp. About 1,000 people, mainly of Somali descent, were bundled from around Nairobi into lorries and placed in Kasarani Stadium.
These are some of the effects that leaders give which lead to negative responses. It would be true if I stated that the anti-refugee mission is generated by state officials in Kenya.
professional view on the matter? KL: In Germany, we use the term ‘refugees’ since the majority of people who have come to Germany are refugees, though it takes a really long time to establish whether one is a refugee or a migrant.
“We therefore find it correct to speak of migrants because then we imply that they are people who have moved from one country to another for various reasons.”
AP: I think the discussion on what term to use has been held over all newsrooms in France and in Europe as a whole. In France, this decision varies from one media outlet to another. Speaking for AFP, the editorial policy is that we do not know whether a group of people are migrants or refugees. However, by definition, all refugees are migrants but not all migrants are refugees. We therefore find it correct to speak of migrants because then we imply that they are people who have moved from one country to another for various reasons. However we try as much as possible to call them ‘men, women and children’ because beyond their legal status, that is what they basically are.
Questions and comments from the audience and responses from the panelists
Comment: I believe that the reason people fear using the term ‘refugees’ is because there is a misconception that since refugees have lost protection from their country of origin, they can be deported from Europe at any time, which is not possible, nor is it true. We, as Europeans, really need to come together and discuss how to inform the public on these issues because the use of wrong terminologies is leading to deaths, violation of rights and arbitrary detention.
Question: Is predominance given to a particular set of refugees in your different countries? KL: There is no particular difference. However, in Germany this past year, we have done many reports on African refugees but Syrians have taken priority since they have been more dominant in our country. AP: I will have to admit that Syrian refugees have been covered most in terms of refugee issues. However, when we report on refugees from Eritrea, for example, people ask questions like: “Was there a war there?” Yet there was no war. It is up to us to explain to the situation to the public, since Eritreans are considered a genuine threat to our countries. Question: Refugees are, by definition, asylum seekers who require international protection, but if you look at recent coverages by many media outlets, there seems to be a preference for the term ‘migrants’. What is your
Comment: In Italy, all these groups of people are seeking asylum. Whether migrants or refugees, they still have to go through the asylum seeking process. Now, I know that our asylum system doesn’t work since it’s too slow and there may be other issues like means for repatriation, but in the end I believe the term ‘asylum seekers’ would suffice. AP: I believe the biggest problem we face is not how we, as journalists, use these terms, but rather, how the public views their use, since some of these neutral terms have gotten to create a negative connotation to the general public. For example, I do not see why people should get a negative idea when the term ‘migrant’ is used. This is why we are still struggling with deciding what word to use.
Challanges John Sibi-Okumu (JSO): Do you report what you want to or are you told what to report. If so, by whom? Katrin Lindner (KL): When I get a telephone call, I receive a request to cover a certain topic or a certain event. I will do my research, probably do some factchecking and then I will actually decide whether I want to cover the story or not. There is no pressure, really, that is placed on the need to cover a specific story. The pressure, I believe, is placed by the need to be correct. Andrea Palasciano (AP): I believe that a discussion is called for when an editor at a desk is convinced that a certain story will have public interest but the journalist who is on the ground is sure that the story really doesn’t meet the required standards. However, there is never a strict enforcement from the editors on what to cover. The editors may request the journalists to change the format or to adopt a different angle. However, the reporter is always free to decide what to write about. John Sibi-Okumu: Katrin, in my researches, I came across an event where the German Chancellor invited journalists for tea and in the process, went ahead to sell her own policy. Were you among the journalists invited? Katrin Lindner: No I was not. We usually get invited by many politicians and institutions to such events, and we have to go, because we need the information. However, after we do, we consult the other parties involved so as to have a neutral report. If for example, the Chancellor tells me about a law that she would like implemented, I have to meet the other parties, for their opinion, so as to get both sides of the coin. AM: For me, I think the only form of pressure I consider is personal pressure. When I see refugees, I get the urge to actually listen to them and hear their story. Personally, I have not seen any politician making a call to the newsroom to ask or demand that a refugee story be covered in a certain way. JSO: Given the choice of providing hard statistics or showing the picture of a lifeless young refugee in the
arms of a soldier which would you choose? Facts or advocacy? AP: As journalists, we are supposed to give facts and avoid voicing our own opinions because the media is not in a position of power, so why should we voice our opinions? The image you are talking about was taken by a Turkish photographer, who works for a Turkish news agency. You are touching on the fact that images have brought immense impact in our coverage, an impact that not a thousand words can have. If the journalist went there and that’s what she saw, it becomes a piece of information. We, as text journalists, work to put these pictures and videos into their appropriate context. It is always very important to contextualise the shocking images and videos. I don’t believe journalists have feared to report these things. If anything, journalists have received criticism for being too compassionate and too empathetic, thus giving too much excruciating detail of these stories. I manage a Twitter account of French African News at AFP and I see these comments, people say that journalists use their emotions to guide the public’s opinion. KL: I think the picture that has been mentioned is one of the cases that make things really hard for us, because we have to protect the interests of the child and at the same time share this story to the public. It is not allowed, for journalists, to show pictures of children without consent from their parents and also we cannot show pictures of dead people until they are recognised. This has brought in a lot of debate but if a picture can be used to contextualise a tragedy, we have to use it because in the end, however hard it is for us, we have to show the public what is going on around them. JSO: Adow, how do you report to get the right message across to without victimizing certain groups, for example Somalis? AM: I believe in the end we have to consider and mention our facts and evidence. If a politician comes today to a press conference and says, “we cannot entertain these refugee camps because they have become nurseries for terrorists,” yet he has no evidence, you have to go beyond that and ask in your report if that is factual statement.
JSO: But you will still write about views which you do not support? AM: As a journalist, you should be on the side of the truth. You have to report what has been said but be clear to the public that what is right is right and what is wrong remains wrong. AP: As journalists, we are not perfect, and we try to cover issues in a very factual way. If, for example, we have to cover a press conference on the National Front, we cover it just as we would cover any other conference by any other party. The challenge is to check the facts, because all facts should be true and factual.
from a building and broke two limbs. She was taken to hospital and since she did not have the financial capability to pay her bill, the hospital refused to release her till she cleared it. When my paper reported her situation, well-wishers cleared the bill within six hours. Such stories encourage me to keep going as a journalist. Katrin Linder (KL): Two things keep me going as a journalist: one is the audience response and the other is finding an answer to the question: why?
KL: I would give a similar response. If I go to a press conference by PEGIDA, for example, and their leader says what he wants and what he doesn’t want. In the end I have to ask questions and give a detailed report because whatever my beliefs, they will still remain part of our society and they will need to be given the public’s attention so that everyone knows what they are about.
“As journalists, we are supposed to give facts and avoid voicing our own opinions because the media is not in a position of power, so why should we voice our opinions?”
Questions and comments from the audience and responses from the panelists:
John Sibi-Okumu (JSO): What keeps you, as journalists, going as you do your job? Andrea Palasciano (AP): I think, on the topic of refugees, it is interesting to put a name and a face to the story. To know what made them move, how they moved and the effect of their movement, I believe, is a very enlightening process. Trying to put yourself in their shoes makes you appreciate your job and it is gratifying. From a learning point of view, it is good to believe in a positive outcome: even if people have come, it has happened before, for example, after the civil war in Spain, when many people came to France and it ended up all right. Adow Mohamed (AM): I believe that what motivates me most is publishing a story and seeing how it changes a person’s life. I remember the story of a lady who, during the Kasarani relocation crisis, was pushed
Question: My question is about Gender in migration issues. In Italy, in 2008, a man killed a woman but it only made news because the man was a migrant. At the beginning of the year (2016) in Germany, some migrants harassed women and it became a huge scandal because they were migrants. As far as I know, all women are harassed by men. How do you, as journalists, tackle this issue? Katrin Lindner (KL): That’s a question which goes to the heart of what we go through as journalists. ZDF covered the (German) story a day after all other media outlets. Our chief of reports asked us to wait so as to confirm all the aspects of the story. I don’t know if I have answered your question, but we didn’t mention where they came from. In news you have to be fast, so you put what you have but when debates begin, you go back to the drawing board and get more facts.
Question: 70% of the workforce in Europe comes from migrants, and they are equally important in Africa as well. How can journalists gather information about this statistic, analyse it conclusively and portray it to the public? KL: At ZDF we have done a lot of stories to show the positive side of the refugee situation, which shows that we care about them enough to support them by giving positive reports. Question: Why has ‘queue- jumping’ been allowed by recent applicants when people from a camp like Kakuma have been waiting for decades to be granted refugee status in Europe? Adow Mohamed (AM): We have debates about the queue-jumping issues, but since I am not part of the government, I don’t think I would give you an answer that is correct. Question: Do you think that there is enough media coverage of refugees in Kenya? Adow Mohamed (AM): I think we are not doing enough, not only as journalists, but as a society as a whole, because from the comfort of our own homes, we forget that there are refugees who do not have a place to stay. As a society, we need to take more of an interest in the whole refugee issue.
“At ZDF we have done a lot of stories to show the positive side of the refugee situation, which shows that we care about them enough to support them by giving positive reports.”
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EXPERT PANEL “Forced Migration: Perceptions and Reality A panel comprising of an academic, a freelance journalist, an agency director, and a United Nations representative sought to convey how their informed understanding measured up against the understanding of the general public on the topic of refugees in Eastern Africa and Europe under the general headings: “The situation on the ground, its management, challenges and possible solutions.” Nassim Majidi Ms. Majidi was an Associate Doctor at Sciences Po’s CERI (Centre for International Studies), focusing on the impact of return migration policies. She also teaches a Masters course on Refugees & Migration as part of Sciences Po Lille’s Conflict and Development Programme. She is the co-founder of Samuel Hall and Head of Migration Practice, specialising in evidencebased research and policy development on migration and displacement.
Lena Schipper Ms. Lena Schipper was a freelance journalist specializing in political economy and public policy, particularly the economics of migration. She was a staff reporter for Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Germany’s leading liberal weekly broadsheet. Before training as a reporter, she worked as a researcher for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, for the German Institute of International and Security Affairs in Berlin, and as a political risk consultant for clients in the Middle East and North Africa. Laurent Grosbois Mr. Laurent Grosbois was the Regional Director of the project, ‘Addressing mixed migration flows in Eastern Africa’ and representative of ‘Expertise France’, a development agency based in Addis Ababa. He has specialized in the field of international protection and
coordination of displaced population movements, including emergency response and facilitation of durable solutions. He has worked in Burundi, DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Central Africa, Chad, Mali, Somalia, Libya and Haiti and has been in charge of the operational response of the Global Protection Cluster within UNHCR’s Department of International Protection. Raouf Mazou Mr. Mazou was the UNHCR Representative in Kenya since September 2013. Prior to this posting, he held the position of Deputy Director of UNHCR’s Desk for East and Horn of Africa Bureau. He had served UNHCR for more than 24 years, having started in the early 90s in the Great Lakes Region and subsequently in West Africa in the context of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugee crises. He had garnered expertise in emergency response, repatriation and developing strategies aimed at bridging the gap between relief and development. The moderator, John Sibi-Okumu, signposted three broad areas of concern. Namely, Editorial policies, Challenges and Benefits. John Sibi-Okumu (JSO): A general question to each of the panelists: what is your professional preoccupation at the moment, with regard to the refugee crisis? Lena Schipper (LS): What I have been doing over the last year mainly, since the refugee situation in Germany and Europe intensified, is to deal with and report on the way German authorities and Germans are dealing with the influx of refugees from the Middle East to Germany. And now I am going to be in Lebanon for the next six months to see how countries closer to the region, to the Syrian civil war that has caused the refugee influx into Europe, are dealing with the people already in the region. I’ll explore what the relations are between the situations in those countries and what’s happening in Europe and to work out maybe whether Germany and Europe can learn from those places. I’m also interested inwhat they have done that people in Europe should avoid and to what extent the
situation in the neighbouring countries is related to the situation in Europe. Laurent Grosbois (LG): I think that in my reply I will respond also to the question asked about the gap between perception and reality. I would prefer to reverse these two words. If you want to change perception, you need to understand the reality. And the first reality is bringing back the story of these misplaced people from a collective vision to a perception of individual, human beings facing specific experiences, specific issues and having specific needs; immediate needs but also durable solution needs. So the first priority is for us to establish mechanisms and to help governments and civil societies in the different countries of origin, transit and destination of migration to understand who these human beings are, as individuals. To have the capacity to interview them, to register them in a way that would grant them adequate services, towards a durable solution. This is a basic, collective analysis of all us working in the field of migration. If we do not understand who we are talking about, we are never going to solve the situation and neither are we going to be able to reduce the negative impacts for the country of origin, the transit country, and the country of destination. Nassim Majidi (NM): My focus, really, over the past ten years and, unfortunately, it has become more fashionable over the last year, is to get those human stories out and to be in the field, on the ground, with researchers. I am part of a research team, both academics and practitioners going on the ground in countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya and interviewing people, first-hand, and getting their stories up to the decision and policy makers. We have already heard the ‘crisis’ word, which we can decompose to realise that, all of a sudden, it has become a crisis because it has hit Europe, because it has hit the West. But the truth is that it has been a reality here, in this region, for decades, as it has been in places like Iran and Pakistan, as well. So, it becomes a crisis only because we view migration from an immigration perspective. Hence, the talk of, ‘burden,’ ‘floods of people,’ waves of people,’ arriving (in Europe). My interest is in shifting the focus from a Northern immigration debate to the reality of people’s
needs, people’s aspirations, the human stories that take us away from understanding the issues in terms of crisis but looking at the country of origin, the country of transit and looking at the South, where most of the migration actually happens. Raouf Mazou (RM): Being the UNHCR Representative in Kenya, my first objective and responsibility is to support the government of Kenya in continuing to provide asylum to refugees. Kenya is the second country in Africa when it comes to the number of refugees that have been received in this country and who are being provided with protection. Another one is to try and move away from a response that we have been giving for decades, which is to maintain refugee camps, like Daddab or Kakuma where refugees receive humanitarian assistance until they can go back to their places of origin. The aim is to see if refugees can be economically integrated into the part of the country in which they’re in. The third objective recognises that being a refugee for 20-25 years is a very long time. But, there are circumstances where, with specific support and support from colleagues, one can go back, voluntarily, to one’s place of origin. JSO: May we have some clarification, Raouf. The acronym UNHCR refers to ‘refugees.’ In our prior panel discussion, there was a desire to know whether the words ‘refugees,’ ‘migrants’ and ‘asylum seekers’ could be used interchangeably? RM: Without going into legalese, somebody who has to flee his or her place of origin because of the circumstances there, will seek asylum in another country and, on arrival say to the authorities: ‘please give me asylum’. If the authorities say yes, then that person becomes a refugee. So he’s an asylum seeker first before he becomes a refugee. As for migration, it can be the same person, but depending on the perspective: somebody who leaves his country because he considers that he has no economic opportunities, and is seeking other opportunities in another place , maybe become a migrant in that place. But that person may be seen as having fewer rights than somebody who is fleeing persecution. JSO: There didn’t seem to be agreement on this matter. Would anybody like to add anything to that?
NM: Yes. First of all, there’s no agreed-upon, international definition of who a migrant is and I think that part of the confusion is that a legal definition is still lacking. On the other hand, the definition of who a refugee is, is very clear in legal terms, from the 1951 Convention after World War Two. And Raouf has just reminded us of it. But a refugee is also a migrant if a migrant is anyone who leaves the borders of his or her own country. So, the word migrant has taken on a pejorative tone. One thinker has spoken about our being involved in ‘discursive acrobatics,’ trying to figure out who is the good refugee and the bad economic migrant. But first, we should start with the overall issue that anyone leaving his or her borders is a migrant, so a refugee is a migrant. But now the refugee is someone who is being recognized as being legally entitled to international protection so ‘migrant’ should not be a negative term. Now, a description that has come up a lot in recent years is that of ‘mixed migration.’ And we’ve been talking about mixed migration because you find refugees or asylum seekers taking the same routes as regular, economic migrants. The fact is that the routes are the same so mixed migration has been a key focus of governments in this region, specifically. LG: It’s very good to keep in mind that the Refugee Convention was drafted in 1951. It was a post-World War Two, cold war situation, where we had individual human beings fleeing oppression as individuals. Now, we are more in a situation, in the global context, of whole countries or whole areas in those countries being affected by conflicts thus making it impossible for a collective group of the population to live there, so forcing them to flee. Consequently, nowadays, the line between refugees and migrants is becoming thinner and thinner, also influenced by the economic situation and, recently, climate change. It is, therefore, difficult for us who intervene in the field to explain to the general public that the refugees and migrants largely have the same needs for protection because they are all in the same situation: they can all be detained in the country of transit, they can be all detained in the country of destination and they can all be involved with criminal groups which wish to exploit them or to involve them in risky situations. JSO: Lena, speaking to you as a journalist, the perception, in absolute terms, is that whereas refugees
are desirable in Africa, they are undesirable in Europe, with the possible exception of Germany. To expand, refugees are ok as long as they stay out of Europe and there is a problem now precisely because they have dared to venture into European countries? LS: I think that’s probably too harsh a generalisation. Until quite recently in Europe, before the conflict in Syria, forced migration on a large scale was really something which happened elsewhere. People in countries like Kenya, on the other hand, have had a lot of experience with forced migration. This is what has initially triggered such an adverse reaction to migration in Europe, some people find it very scary, “It’s going to get worse and we just don’t know how to deal with it.” Germany was maybe an exception because the government of Angela Merkel embraced the humanitarian demands of the crisis and encouraged a welcoming attitude to refugees. People helped them a lot, supported them, and that’s still the case for the majority of Germans. In other parts of Europe, those supportive voices are, perhaps, not quite as strong, so populist and anti-refugee parties and groups have gained strength on the back of the refugee crisis. NM: There are historical trends to migration and immigration. Every time the initial reaction is; ‘It’s impossible! We can’t take them!” And then that reaction becomes: “How can we transfer the burden somewhere else, so that they don’t come here?” So, the instinctive, human and political reaction is to say: “It’s impossible.” But usually it is possible. For example, let’s remember the France of the 1970s, when the Vietnamese and Cambodians arrived. It was well-managed and it was well-planned. And so, the whole issue of whether it’s possible or not just has to do with planning and political will. As much as there is a crisis, it’s more of a political nature rather than owed to migration, as such. JSO: Raouf, in Kenya, since refugee camps like Kakuma and Dadaab having existed from the 1990s the perception might be that key players really do not want the situation to change: it is a thriving ‘win-win’ business, as it were, and they now lament the fact that the ‘refugee business’ is shifting to other countries, like Turkey? Shouldn’t a viable solution have been found in all those years?
RM: Yes. The expectation was that the situation would improve in countries of origin and refugees would return there. And the approach was to say, in the meantime we will continue to get humanitarian assistance because there were enough resources around the world to maintain these camps for a long period of time. How the Syrian situation has helped, if I can use that word, is that it has basically made it clear that a situation like Kakuma, a situation like Dadaab, cannot be tolerated or accepted indefinitely. However, we have come to realize that the solution to the refugee situation may not always be return to the country of origin. Nor can it be the retention of camps. In certain circumstances, with certain support programmes, it is possible to have refugees economically integrated into the part of the country they are in. Now, as soon as you say economically integrated, people respond: “Do you mean that they will never go back to their place of origin?” And the answer is no. The answer is that somebody who was economically active while in exile is better prepared to help reconstruct his or her country upon return. So to describe it as a “thriving business,” may be a bit harsh but we do have to move away from a situation in which people feel comfortable with things as they are. In the past, institutions like the World Bank were saying: “This is a humanitarian situation and humanitarian actors should deal with it.’” However, today, in Jordan, for instance, the World Bank is looking at the creation of an economic zone and seeing how refugees can be employed and become part of the host country. But it is true, to a large extent, that situations were allowed to last for a long period of time and, basically, they took on a life of their own. JSO: Laurent, the perception might be that Europe is the dream destination for every refugee. Is there such a thing as South-South migration? LG: Yes, there is. I was recently at a presentation organized by the African Union on the latest statistics of population movement on refugees and migration from African countries. In the last few years less than 13% of African migrants and refugees were going towards Europe. While at the same time, nearly 10% of African migrants or refugees were going towards southern Africa, not only South Africa but also to the neighboring countries. But also some to the Horn of Africa. We have more than 30% who were
going towards Middle East. Most African migrants or refugees are heading to these places because economically, they have become more attractive than Europe and, therefore, they think that they might find more work opportunities and so their future might be there. JSO: Lena, would you say, from your research, that there are certain places that refugees do not consider to be good destination countries? Places like North and South America, China and India? LS: I think there are lots of places that people want to go to, but they just can’t get to them. UK and Europe just happen to be in the situation that they have waters within their borders and a lot of people want to go there. The Americas it may be extremely difficult to reach so they have managed to insulate themselves to some extent from at least the current migration flows. I am not sure they are going to be able to continue in that position forever, particularly because people in Europe have started to say that the burden should be shared, so it’s not a position which can be sustained for that long, either politically or morally. NM: I keep coming back to having a historical perspective. So, again, talking about forced migration, we should go back to the Refugee Convention of 1951, in the wake of World War II. One hundred and fortyseven countries signed the convention showing a global commitment to making sure that situations of forced migration would be responded to with a rights-based approach. Now, in theory, the convention gives refugees the right to work and to move in the countries of exile. In practice we know, oftentimes, it is the exception rather than the reality. In this region, for example in Uganda, refugees have the right to work but not in Kenya. Another theory is that there are different solutions: local integration, return, and also re-settlement. But we now know that in practice less than one percent of refugees are given a chance at the lottery of re-settlement. And the third theory is that it is a global responsibility. In reality, it’s mainly taken care of by countries in the South and I think that’s obviously convenient for some countries that are further away, that are not proximate to the conflict areas where these people flee from. And so those are distinctions, theory versus practice, showing that we have a great convention, we have a framework, we
have international standards of protection. Yet as many academics will tell you, this system is failing because we haven’t been able to adapt the rules to a changing world and to changing dynamics. Therefore, there are rules that states are supposed to follow and those rules are not being followed, one of them being this question of a global sharing of the refugee case load.
Questions and comments from the audience and responses from the panelists Question: Could you comment on the issue of repatriation to the African continent? RM: I believe you are referring to the fact that in cases where asylum seekers’ claims are rejected in a number of countries, they are returned to either their places of origin or to another country. There have been discussions between European countries to agree with countries of origin once somebody’s claim has been rejected on how they can be repatriated. Has there been an agreement on that with the large movement of people eligible to go back? I don’t think so. I do know that a large number of applications by Somalis have been rejected in some European countries. But I don’t know how conclusive overall discussions have been. NM: I think we’re talking about the European Union’s approach to the migration crisis. The idea, discussed at a recent summit, is that a range of measures could be taken to respond. And so, part of the response package would include addressing the root causes of migration from countries of origin to fix situations that lead to this migration whether they are political or economic. And so development as well, is being seen as a way of slowing down migration. The other part of the response package was to look into return policies as a way to manage migration. However, if you look at the past 10-20 years, repatriation management tool kits haven’t actually worked, because if you don’t fix the structural problems in the countries of origin in the first place returns will lead to further re-migrations. The EU and donors, in general, have been investing more funds in tackling root causes to address mixed migrations but what happens after
returns? This is a key issue, worthy of research. We ourselves did research on Somali returnees from Norway. Now, we’re talking about very few numbers but we found that there were threats to their security when they had returned. They had needs in terms of mental health, in terms of employment. Hopefully organisations will pay more attention to what happens in post-return situations. It’s not just a matter of taking people back but also of making sure that their transition to normal lives is made possible. If it can’t be done, then we shouldn’t be returning people.
“There are historical trends to migration and immigration. Every time the initial reaction is; ‘It’s impossible! We can’t take them!” And then that reaction becomes: “How can we transfer the burden somewhere else, so that they don’t come here?” Question: Can you tell us about the EU-Turkey deal, spearheaded by German Chancellor Angela Merkel? NM: To go back in time, in the early 2000s, there was the Dublin Regulation, brought about to manage the asylum-seeker crisis. The idea was if an asylum seeker was found in France he would be returned to the first country of entry in Europe in usually, Greece or Italy. Now in the recent crisis, states have withdrawn from that. The new version of it, the EU-Turkey deal has that we can take back some of the asylum seekers to Turkey in exchange for benefits to the Turkish government. This is part of the European integration and yes, creates a flexible visa system for the Turks. However, this EU-Turkey deal is technically not legally sound. The UNHCR distances itself from the EU-Turkey deal saying it wasn’t from a rights-based perspective, it wasn’t legally sound nor humanly sound. I would just like to make sure that that’s clear. The deal is not accepted by all, not by UNCHR, not by a lot of academics.
Question: There is a widespread feeling that terrorists and Islamic terrorists in particular, are hidden among real refugees. Perception or reality? NM: Regarding the migration-security nexus, there are, indeed, a lot of myths. For example, we are led to believe that terrorists can use the same migration routes to enter countries such as Kenya, France, Belgium et cetera. Now, there are entities which further this type of discourse, but the reality does not bare it out. When the Garissa attack happened last year in Kenya, we were quick to hear about a migrantrefugee-security nexus. The same happened again with the awful incident in Cologne, Germany. However, there has been no evidence to back up those claims. Another widely-circulated myth is that refugees and asylum seekers come to take advantage of the welfare system or from jobs. The truth is that, if you are an asylum seeker in France, for example, you have to wait for one year and show proof of a job contract before you can begin to work. And let us remember that asylum seekers and refugees do not leave a rosy situation in the first place, to go in search of better benefits. LS: Most of the literature concludes that the impact of migration on local economies tends to be positive. They take on jobs that were being done by natives or were not being done at all. They improve innovation. They set up new businesses because it is hard for them to find formal employment. These are all inputs that should be highlighted to people who worry about their presence. Question: There was mention of refugees being allowed to work in Uganda. Is this an example of best practice, as compared to Kenya, where they are not allowed to work? RM: This is another example of the need to weigh up facts against preconceived ideas. The reason why Uganda had this policy was not based on economic persuasion. When you talk to the Ugandan leadership they simply say: “We like refugees because when Ugandans were refugees in a country like Kenya, they were able to work there. Therefore, we want to provide the same treatment in return.” This does not change the fact, as I have mentioned already, it is more profitable for a country to allow refugees to be part
of the economy than to keep them in camps awaiting humanitarian assistance̶—a situation which leads to grievances and friction between refugees and the host population. Humanitarian assistance thrown at people for a long period of time looks expensive but it’s not as expensive in the immediate term as the development we need to put in. In the long run, it is much more profitable for them. At least in this region, I would say that Uganda is an example of good practice that we need to continue to support. Question: We have heard reference to “climate change” refugees. Could you explain if they have a formal classification? LG: As was said with regard to migrants, there is, as yet, no legal definition of climate change refugees. Yet we need to be realistic: we are no longer in 1951 and it is unlikely that UN and General Assembly members will ratify a new refugee convention but there is a way to respond to climate change by national policies. There is the example of the Kampala Convention, which addresses displacements related to natural climate change and the need for people to receive adequate protection and assistance from the country which receives them with a status similar to that conveyed by the Refugee Convention. Question: It is a given that migration has pushed European politics to the right. Could you describe its political effects on source countries? NM: First, governments in source countries see migrants as voting with their feet when they leave their countries of origin. In effect, they are delegitimizing the state by migrating. Their action is a political act which does not please. Therefore, anti-refugee talk is to be noted in the national discourse of source countries. However, at the local level, those leaders who are dealing with having to provide services and jobs see the benefits of having NGOs in the marginalised areas. They are more and more focused on the benefits of return programmes, investment programmes, development programmes, particularly if these are sustained over time. When we spoke to county authorities in Garissa, where Dadaab is situated, authorities had a very positive discourse on the presence of refugees on their soil. For them it was seen as a benefit. So, the focus should be on
local rather than national responses, as positive entry points where we can influence policies. JSO: Time is of the essence. I am obliged to throw two assertions at you. Please choose one and, ideally, respond to one that way we can move more quickly. 1.”Migrants become either a welcome source of cheap labor in Europe, generally, or an unwelcome threat to the local labour force in a country like South Africa. Neither of these extremes seems desirable?” 2. “There isn’t a unity of response in Africa and Europe and the rest of the world doesn’t care.” And the third perception of the batch is that: “A dispensation similar to the Marshall Plan after the Second World War, throwing huge sums of money at the problem would guarantee its solution.” Lena? LS: I would like to comment on your assertions about labour. And it goes back to what I was saying about the academic literature. I can’t really comment on the situation in Kenya and other neighboring countries but in Europe there are strict labor regulations and standards that basically guarantee workers certain basic rights. But also I agree with you there is a sense in which refugee migrants from Syria and particularly Eastern Europe have played roles that native Germans didn’t want to take over. So you have a lot of Romanians working in slaughter houses in exploitative conditions and getting unacceptable wages. But that’s not what the majority of the population is worried about: “We can have the Romanians in the slaughter houses. We really don’t want to know about their working conditions. But the society needs them because they perform a role.” LS: On lack of unity of response. First of all, it is important to know that there is no common policy over migration in the European Union. There also isn’t a common law about citizenship. For some countries there is right by birth, for others, there is right by blood. And on a Marshall-type plan, there is the aspect of the different development levels. When we have difficult economic crises, different countries don’t have the same capacity to deal with the refugee crisis. Greece has been asking for help from other European countries since the beginning of the crisis. And we must note that some European Union countries have a longer history of giving asylum to refugees.
JSO: Let’s now try to focus specifically on the management of the situation. Raouf, is UNHCR directly involved in supporting peace efforts and influencing government policy? RM: We humanitarians are often seen as acting in a moral way because it is our job to act in a moral way. Daadab and Kakuma need tenable solutions for refugees. And it can’t be done independently. As repatriation is concerned, I think we have to be openminded about everything. There are those who moved into the camps in 2011, owing to drought. Now, the response given to someone who left Somalia for Kenya in the 90s should be different from the response given to someone who left in 2011. We have to understand the reason why they came and tailor our response towards solving these reasons. Basically, we have to understand first the dynamics of the situation. Why are people fleeing?
“Humanitarian assistance thrown at people for a long period of time looks expensive but it’s not as expensive in the immediate term as the development we need to put in.”
JSO: We have to stop, unfortunately. A final word from anyone on the panel. Who has one? LS: Well, thank you everyone. It’s been interesting to answer the questions from the floor. All of us here should try to take part in solving forced migration. Give people the opportunity to create their own opportunities. If that happens, the whole situation becomes less unbearable for everyone. LG: Just one point on durable solutions. We should have a developmental approach by first going back to the root causes of refugee movements, such as conflict. We need also to understand the differences between refugees because of their backgrounds. We develop many international policies that never impact on the ground. We need to be more pragmatic. Also to recognize that there are more and more refugees and more and more migrants. NM: I will finish by saying that in as much as I don’t disregard the national and international level, I think that the nation state lens through which we have been looking at migration is just not adapted to the situation. We need to work more on local integration.
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Migration Of Long Treks In The Sand & Makeshift Boats In The Night
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights... No one shall be held in slavery or servitude... No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment... No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile… Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution… Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion… Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression… The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections… Everyone has the right to a nationality.” – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10-12-1948).
(Human) Migration is the movement by people from one place to another with the intentions of settling in the new location. Historically, migration happened; voluntarily – seeking adventure or space as a result of population expansion or forcefully as a result of harsh climatic cycles or war/conquests. More recently, with clearly defined territorial borders and nationalities, human migration has become as complex as it is simple. This loosely translates to the reasons for movement being ‘non-complex’ while the physical movement is getting more complicated because of border controls. Most human movement post WWII is ironically as a result of abuse of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the people entrusted to protect them.
discarded the ideals that were meant to help them govern. For this reason, presidencies or monarchies stopped being institutions and were rapidly replaced by the individuals occupying them. This has led to most African leaders not ceding political power and clinging to leadership at all costs which has created a situation where those challenging the status quo are labeled dissident and can be arbitrarily detained; communities perceived not to support the incumbent being marginalized, and the politically correct having access to the country’s coffers to buy lavish lifestyles. This in turn created a situation where anyone seeking change, had to do it unconventionally. And that’s why it’s (probably) only in Africa that there are still Coup d’etats in the 21st century instead of elections. There are no published statistics but if recent history was to be used, we’d agree that 4 in 5 countries have either not had credible elections in a very long time. Or are currently engaged in civil disorder. When this happens, the citizenry is caught between a rock and a hard place! Two options – fight back, or flee. Whatever happens, there’s a forced mass movement of a population from their land to seek asylum elsewhere. This is why words such as Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), Refugee Camps, Resettlement… are all commonplace within the continent.
The abuse/denial of the four pillars of freedom — speech, religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want have contributed significantly to the mass displacement of humans (especially) in Africa over the last 25 years.
As Kenyans we were introduced to this vocabulary as hosts of (probably) the two largest camps in the world; Dadaab & Kakuma. These camps hosting citizens of every country surrounding Kenya with the exception of Tanzania is appalling. Painful. It’d be understandable for Somali to be insecure. But why do we have Ugandan and South Sudanese refugees? Why do we have Kenyans living in squalid conditions in IDP camps yet they once were hard working farmers? Or business people? Or just plain citizens like me and you. I’m not an expert in this but my two cents points to politics. Politics of greed. Ethnicity. Kleptocracy. The “It’s My Turn To Eat” syndrome.
While most of Africa is celebrating 50ish years of ‘independence’, we’re slowly having to confront the grim reality of a totally messed up last 25 or so years. Most of Africa’s so-called ‘architects of independence’
Africa has become so complicated with unrest or uncertainty in almost every democracy that most people seeking asylum have to go through multiple borders to find relative calm. This is what’s given rise
to the new route across the Mediterranean. Currently, most of the productive-age Africans are on the move. For the well heeled, a business-class daytime flight across the Atlantic does the work. Some will fake immigration documents and bank statements to try dupe the consular man of their preferred countries of migration. For those fleeing persecution with no time to plan and no proper documentation, the long trek in the sand and the makeshift boats in the night are the only way out. Stories of treacherous journeys – starvation, exploitation by human traffickers, extortion by militias/government agents and even death have been told by numerous immigrants who have ‘made it through.’ They are replayed countless times to punctuate the ‘against all odds’ stories. But what about those who are still journeying? Those in camps. Or those locked in a box labeled “Refugees?” Those whose lives have been put on hold – temporarily or permanently, because they are still in transit. Apart from institutions whose mandate it is to handle migrants, Kenyans seem so detached from people who reside within our borders as a result of forced migration from their countries of birth. Somalis. Ethiopians. Sudanese. Rwandese. Congolese. Eritreans etc. For most urban dwellers, the word ‘Ethiopian’ translates to ‘Injera’. We don’t really care how they got here or why they came. We’re obsessed with our own tribal politicking we forget that similar scenarios might have been what forced upright citizens to leave behind what they had spent a lifetime building. The typical Kenyan’s nonchalance on the issue is reflected way up in the government. As much as most African governments give ‘safe passages’ to those fleeing, it’s a shame they do this while waiting for some western state to issue permanent residency and citizenship. It’s rather upsetting that a person born in Sudan and has resided in Kakuma Refugee Camp since 1992 is still labeled “refugee” or that a young girl born in Ethiopia but has lived 90% of her life in Nairobi, gone through the Kenyan system of education, speaks better Swahili than me and prefers ugali to injera is still transiting. And identifies herself as an Ethiopian refugee because that’s the only option
we’ve given her. What does the African Union do for (ordinary) Africans? African governments should be able do more for its citizens. It may not sound politically juvenile but it makes sense to grant permanent citizenship to people who can’t go back home and are tired of waiting for ‘third party states’ to come help. We get irritated and throw tantrums when delayed for an hour in an air conditioned airport lounge while transiting to some exotic destination. So how do we think Thakiy feels having waited or 25 years?! What is so logistically difficult in registering a person of good character as a Kenyan. They’ll find their own job, pay their own rent & health bills, choose where they want to reside and deal with the frustration of being an African living in Africa. Just like you and me. A life where they are just John. Just Halima. Just Jean-Claude. Not Sudanese Refugee. Or urban refugee. Forced migration can happen to anyone. Is this how we’d like to be treated if we happened to be on the other side? Not me. People fleeing home are not vermin coming to take what is ‘ours’ or destroy our society. They are human beings with a different set of skills. People with cultures we can borrow from. Humans who have come to us for help. Why do we isolate in these camps for decades? Why are we just a transit point? I’m glad artists are talking about this uncomfortable subject. About Africa’s need of finding African solutions to African problems (not just rhetoric pertaining to the International Criminal Court). It could mean political. Maybe ideological. Or just social. I wish all Kenyans could participate in this discourse. I wish our opinion counted. Mattered. One day maybe! I wish Kenya would initiate programs intended to facilitate assimilation and permanent resettlement for anyone of good moral standing and character seeking refuge in our country. Wishful thinking! Most asylum seekers suffer from post-traumatic stress, forced separation from family, and cultural isolation. Continued institutional discrimination against them doesn’t make it any easier for them. We should be able to grant them closure by allowing them to ‘move on.’ By allowing them to start a new life in our land. By giving them full status that allows them the
fundamental human rights that we take for granted.
It’s wrong on all levels to condemn a human being who’s had everything forcefully taken from them to an isolated camp for a quarter of a century and continue referring to them as a refugee with our head held high as if we take pride in their predicament and continuously benefit from their sorrows. If Africans permanently took in their own, there’d be less desert treks and almost no rickety makeshift boat capsizing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean at night. African problems as a result of political mischief should be solved by Africans themselves politically.
©Ogonga Thom (2016)
“I’m glad artists are talking about this uncomfortable subject. About Africa’s need of finding African solutions to African problems (not just rhetoric pertaining to the International Criminal Court). It could mean political. Maybe ideological. Or just social.” 39
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the Artists Hassan Abdulrahman “Abwan” Barre Abija Mugisha Chibiha Gebremariam Mahlet Ecubaygorgiz Tariku Feleke Jackie Karuti Stephanel Thakiy Koang Kivuthi Mbuno Muktar Bashir Mudey Noor Ali Mudey Alpha Mukange Mukangala Patrick Mukabi Shabu Mwangi Longinos Nagila Ray ‘Piwi’ Ochieng Onyis Martin Hamwenayo Viviene Tresor Michael Soi William Wambugu 50
Hassan Abdulrahman “Abwan” Barre Abwan (born Mogadishu, 1970) is a Somali artist based in Dadaab Refugee Camp. He apprenticed for a Somali artist from 1994 and was making art till he left in 1999 for Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. Abwan studied graphic design in Yemen (2000) after which he worked as a designer/printer in Nairobi. He has participated in several UN sponsored training workshops and exhibitions and exhibited in the ‘Artists for Refugees’ exhibition at Alliance Française in Nairobi in 2015. He lives and works in Dadaab Refugee Camp.
Abija Mugisha Chibiha Mugisha was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1973 where he trained as a secondary school teacher before he fled for Kenya in 1996. He is a self-trained artist and guitarist and itâ€™s his fist time to participate in any professional art activity. He is currently based in Nairobi.
Gebremariam Mahlet Ecubaygorgiz Mahlet was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1994. Her family left Ethiopia in 2000. She has gone through the Kenyan educational system and was introduced to art through the school initiated art clubs. She has been commissioned to do murals for Refugee Point and works as a portrait artist. Mahlet has a Diploma in Public Relations (Nairobi University) and is currently pursuing an International Relations degree at the United States International University (USIU) Africa in Nairobi. She exhibited at Alliance Française during the ‘Artists for Refugees’ exhibition in 2015.
Tariku Feleke Tariku was born in 1971 in Saula, Ethiopia. He studied language and literature in Saint Mary University, Suala, Ethiopia and made a living making religious paintings and illustrations for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He left Ethiopia for Kenya and arrived in Kakuma refugee camp in 2010. Tariku has participated in several exhibitions including the ‘Artists for Refugees’ exhibition (Alliance Française, Nairobi) in 2010 and 2015. He has as a keen interest in painting the natural world and flower still life. He lives and works at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Jackie Karuti Karuti, also known as Jackie the Third, is a Kenyan performance and installation artist. She studied graphic and multimedia design in Nairobi, Kenya and has in recent years gained positive attention for her experimental, conceptual work using new media. She has exhibited and participated in workshops and residencies in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and the USA. She has also collaborated with other artists in various film, photography and academic projects. She lives in Nairobi and works from her studio at Kuona Trust.
Stephanel Thakiy Koang Thakiy was born circa 1970 in Kouk, in what is now South Sudan. He left Sudan in 1987 for Ethiopia when war broke out and made the journey back in 1991 when Ethiopia erupted. He eventually left for Kenya in 1992. Thakiy is a member of the group that is colloquially referred to as “The Lost Boys of Sudan.” Thakiy sat for his KCSE after which he did vocational training – auto mechanics, masonry and carpentry. His professional practice kickstarted when he attended his first artist workshop in 1998 (Building Art Together, Kakuma) and his work featured in a group exhibition in Troppen Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He has participated in painting (2002) and printing (2012) technical workshops and been part of exhibitions at the Goethe-Institut Kenya (2002) and Alliance Française, Nairobi (2015). Thakiy is a full time artist who lives and works in Kakuma Refugee Camp where he has been since 1992.
Kivuthi Mbuno Kivuthi was born in 1947 in Kenya and is a member of what is loosely referred to as the first generation of Kenyan artists. He has been involved in traveling since his youth and worked as a safari chief in Kenya and Tanzania. That builds his deep passion and relationship with wild fauna. In 1976, his ties with the family of Baroness Karen Blixen led him to settle in Langata, where, from then on, he devoted himself exclusively to drawing. Kivuthi has exhibited widely both locally and abroad. He currently lives and works from his home in Makueni, Kenya.
Muktar Bashir Mudey Muktar also known as ‘MBM’ is a Somali artist born in Baidoa (1965). He left Somali for Kenya in 1996 and shuttled between Hagadera (Dadaab) and Nairobi before settling in Nairobi where he attained certificates in printing technology from Kul Graphics in 2001. He has worked as painter/muralist both in Somalia and Kenya and has been commissioned to do UNESCO illustrations. He has exhibited widely locally with the most prominent being “Somali Artists Against Hunger” at the Nairobi National Museum (1998) and “Katuni” exhibition at The GoDown Arts Center, Nairobi. He lives and works in Nairobi.
Noor Ali Mudey Noor is a Bantu Somali born in 1972 in Mogadishu. He obtained a high school diploma before fleeing Somali for Kenya where he arrived at Dadaab Refugee Camp (Hagadera) in 2001. He went through vocational training and worked as a mason and signage artist in Daadab where he is commissioned to makes signs for restaurants, kiosks, salon and shops. He ventured into fine art where he uses his skill to document Somali culture as he remembers it before its dominance by religious militants. He participated in ‘Artists for Refugees Exhibition’ at Alliance Française Nairobi in 2015. He lives and works in Dadaab Refugee Camp.
Alpha Mukange Mukangala Alpha is a Congolese artist born in 1985 in Ngweshi in the Democratic Republic of Congo He obtained a high school diploma before fleeing Congo for Kakuma in 2010. He is a self taught artist who uses his skill to document life around him. His art is concerned with the complexities of the Congolese society with a focus on the music of that region. He is also quite keen on commenting on the challenges that are emerging as a consequence of global warming Alpha participated in T-shirt screen printing and sign writing workshops through Lutheran World Foundation (Kakuma, 2011) and exhibited his work during the FilmAid sponsored ‘International Art for Refugees Exhibition’ at Alliance Française Nairobi (2010) and the ‘World Refugee Day’ at Alliance Française Nairobi (2015). He currently lives and works at the Kakuma Refugee camp. 60
Patrick Mukabi Born in 1969, Patrick Mukabi’s formal art education began in 1988 with a one year course in Basic Illustration at the Creative Art Centre followed by a two year Certificate in a Graphic Design course at the Kenya Polytechnic in Nairobi. He participated in his first group exhibition in 1994, and won the nomination for the Best New Artist at the East African Industries Annual Exhibition, held at Gallery Watatu in Nairobi in 1995. He burst onto the art scene in 1996 and his outstanding creativity has featured in many art exhibitions since then. In 2002, he was awarded the Kuona Trust’s Best Original Art Work prize in Nairobi. He has exhibited widely both locally and abroad and has participated in numerous artist workshops and residencies internationally. He currently works from his Dust Depo Studio in Nairobi where he nurtures young talent and mentors emerging artists.
Shabu Mwangi Mwangi, a self taught practitioner was born in Nairobi. He began practicing in 2003 by participating in art workshops in various Kenyan art spaces. Â In 2007 alongside other artists, they set up an artist collective called Wajukuu Arts. Mwangi is also a muralist and a mentor in his community for children and youth. Â He provides a safe space for young people to express themselves through art workshops and art therapy programmes. He has has exhibited extensively in Kenya and abroad.Â Mwangi lives and works in Mukuru in Nairobi, Kenya.
Longinos Nagila Longinos is a Kenyan visual artist, born in 1986.Â He studied drawing and painting at the Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts (BIFA, Nairobi) then proceeded to study film in Leece, Italy. He held his first solo exhibition in Lecce, Italy in 2009-2010 and has continued to exhibit in Italy. In 2012-2013 he was one of the artists who exhibited at the Museo Africano in Verona, Italy. He has exhibited extensively both locally and abroad. His currently lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya where he has a studio at Kuona Trust, Centre for Visual Art.
Ray â€˜Piwiâ€™ Ochieng Kenyan born and based Piwi studied photography at Market Photo Workshop Johannesburg, South Africa. He uses photography to portray everyday life in his reportages that often shed light on untold personal narratives to evoke global social and economic shifts. He is one of the most prolific photographers locally and has exhibited widely. He works from his studio in Nairobi.
Onyis Martin Born in 1987 in Nairobi (Kenya), Onyis attended St Elizabeth Primary School Lunga Lunga and Aquinas High School from where he joined Mukuru Art and Craft Center. He developed his practice at The GoDown Arts Centre and Kuona Trust, Centre for Visual Art, from where he has been able to exhibit extensively. He won awards to exhibit in Taiwan at the Taipei International Art Competition in 2014 and 2015 and participated in â€˜THAT Art Fair in South Africa (2016). He is considered one of the most promising Kenyan artists and currently lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.
Hamwenayo Viviene Tresor Tresor is a Rwandese artist born in 1991 in Mwanza, Tanzania. In 1997 the family moved back to Rwanda where he obtained his high school diploma and later got a certificate in Automobile engineering and is a qualified Auto Mechanic. He left Rwanda for Dabaab via Nairobi in 2015 and; with a background of 3rd place Award in National School Art Competition (2006), 2nd place in the same (2009); started art making and script-writing for theatre as a hobby and a way of beating boredom. Tresor is interested in the book form and has done a handful of hand drawn books while commenting and making illustration of the social rituals of the world around him. He lives and works from Dadaab.
Michael Soi Born in 1972, Michael studied fine art and art history at the Creative Arts Centre, Nairobi before joining Kuona Trust in 1996. He worked as an arts administrator at Kuona Trust before delving into full time practice in 2010. Working from a studio at the GoDown Arts Centre, Soi has participated in numerous artist workshops/residencies and exhibited widely locally and internationally and has a huge following of collectors and enthusiasts globally. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya
William Wambugu William Wambugu was born in Kenya in 1983. He graduated from high school and started out as a matatu/street artist before he started drawing in order to understand his world and it eventually became a vehicle for him to communicate with the outside world. Without formal training, he joined Kuona Trust from where he slowly gained recognition. He has participated in numerous exhibitions and artist workshops both locally and abroad. William is currently working on a project of mass amnesia of the â€œEmergencyâ€? in Kenya. He currently lives and works from his private studio in Ruai, Nairobi.
Migrants and Refugees:
Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya. A photo exhibition illustrating the varying experiences of refugees in the three countries. Photographs courtesy of AFP, DPA and Kenyan photographer Thomas Mukoya
The images show differing attitudes and approaches in how the three countries control, embrace and facilitate the hosting of refugees. They also give a glimpse into the lives of refugees inside the camps and shelters. Camps and Shelters The contrast between the vast camp of Dadaab in Kenya, reportedly the world’s largest refugee camp seemingly cut off from developed urban spaces, to “The Jungle” in Calais, France where tents and temporary shelters border industry and business. Germany houses its refugees mainly inside urban areas, in gymnasiums and buildings or in temporary tents and shelters. Life in the Camps A view from within the camp. The contrast between the sometimes bleak industrial setting of “The Jungle” in France with Kenya’s red soil and Germany’s very formulaic close quarter model. Screening The process of screening and registering refugees in France, Germany and Kenya. Treatment of Refugees Prejudices against refugees in the different countries as well as the harsh treatment of refugees by the authorities in some countries. Welcoming and accommodating treatment of refugees by people from the countries to which they have fled. Political engagement The engagement of politicians with refugees in the different countries. Fears of security meant that US Secretary of State John Kerry had to conduct his meeting with refugees via video link whereas in Germany and France politicians are able to get closer albeit in a staged way for the media. Refugee engagement The photos show refugees who have taken up a role of either informing, entertaining or showing enterprise despite the disadvantages they have faced or continue to face. The images portray examples of the positive contributions that refugees can make to societies in the host country.
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‘Out of the Box A Forum theatre performance where the audience become active ‘spect-actors’
A five-day theatre workshop with refugees living in the Kakuma and Daadab camps, as well as Nairobi, was facilitated by the trainer Oliver Malcor, from the ‘Parteciparte’ association, based in Rome. This resulted in the ‘Out of the Box’ performance using the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology (also referred to as Forum Theatre). The activity used the box as a metaphor to encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking in trying to find solutions to the challenging situations encountered by refugees. Short scenes depicting real life difficult situations from the day-to-day lives of the refugee actors were developed during the workshop. These were then performed on stage before a live audience. After each scene, a willing member of the audience was invited on the stage to show how he or she would have reacted in such a situation and changed the outcome to bring about a positive result. This interaction took place in a secure environment moderated by the trainer in order to foster dialogue and generate alternative solutions. The Forum Theatre is a technique devised by the Brazilian dramatist, Augusto Boal, which aims to offer theatre as a tool to fight injustice in order to promote positive social and political change. The participants were: Peter Anibie (South Sudan), Rey Bulambo (Congo), Adno Moulii Goorgaab (Somalia), Claudine Heda (Congo), Foos Ibrahim (Somalia), Olivier Kitongo (Congo), Sacré Luata Lisema (Congo), Abdulahi Libaan Mohamed (Somalia), Kiiza Mohamed Minani (Burundi), Eugene Mukubwa (Burundi), Yassin Abdullahi Noor (Somalia), Magdalene Nyajume (Ethiopia), Oboya Omot Ogul (South Sudan), Peter Okello (Ethiopia), Abdishakur Mohamed Osoble (Somalia), and Brian Sebyala (Uganda). Some of the situations explored and analyzed during the performance included: Armed conflict: How do you avoid taking sides when your country is being looted and your community members are being recruited by the increasing number of rebel groups? Crossing borders: Forced to flee because your life is at risk, how should you deal with and be treated by the authorities of the country you have fled to? In the camps: How do you counter tribalism and racism between different cultures living together? How do you convince a brother to accept his sister who loves someone from another country? War refugees: How do you cease excusing or justifying a revenge and retaliatory culture as a result of the trauma suffered in war zones? Survivors of rape: How do you stop victimizing survivors of rape and how do you help integrate them back into the community? Urban refugees: How do you prevent harassment of refugees in urban centres in the name of war on terror?
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Refugeenius A music concert celebrating talented refugee musicians
With the support of UNHCR Kenya’s Artists for Refugees initiative, the popular Kenyan Hip Hop artist, Octopizzo, launched the inaugural Refugeenious concert a platform for showcasing talented refugee artists. Six refugee musicians—three from the Kakuma Camp and three living in Nairobi—participated in a week-long music workshop with Octopizzo and the Threat Band, which culminated in a riveting musical performance with a mixture of Hip Hop and Folk music from Congo, Burundi, Ethiopia and Somalia. The Artists for Refugees project aims to enhance livelihood opportunities for refugees by building their capacities and improving their access to alternative livelihood opportunities through music, art, sports and culture. The musicians Ally Mshikana Ibolecho (Congo), Lissa Munezero (Burundi), Moi Tia Tutut (Sudan), Raaxa Shariif Nuur (Somali), Yusuf Arah Okash (Somali) and Diribe Gada (Ethiopian) were joined on the stage by Octopizzo and Vicmass Luodollar.
Talk at the shore Shabu Mwangi Painting 2016
Musicians on stage during ‘Refugeenius’ Concert Paul Munene
Panelists Andrea Palasciano, Adow Mohamed and Katrin Lindner 2016 Alex Kamweru
Panel Discussion “One Image, Three Perspectives” 2016 Alex Kamweru
Group photo of panelists and moderator, Katrin Lindner, John Sibi-Okumu, Adow Mohamed and Andrea Palasciano 2016 Alex Kamweru
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Moderator John Sibi-Okumu 2016 Alex Kamweru
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Panelist Adow Mohamed 2016 Alex Kamweru
Panelist Andrea Palasciano 2016 Alex Kamweru
Panelists and moderator John Sibi-Okumu, Katrin Lindner, Adow Mohamed and Andrea Palasciano 2016 Alex Kamweru
Panelists Raouf Mazou, Nassim Majidi, Laurent Grosbois, Lena Schipper and moderator John Sibi-Okumu 2016 Alex Kamweru
panelist Lena Schipper 2016 Alex Kamweru
panelist Laurent Grosbois 2016 Alex Kamweru
moderator John Sibi-Okumu 2016 Alex Kamweru
panelists Raouf Mazou and Nassim Majidi 2016 Alex Kamweru
artist Patrick Mukabi doing live painting during exhibition opening 2016 Paul Munene
exhibition view “Of Ships Passing In The Night” 2016 Alex Kamweru
visitor of exhibition “Of Ships Passing In The Night” 2016 Alex Kamweru
artist talking about his work during exhibition opening 2016 Alex Kamweru
exhibition’s developer Peterson Kamwathi and assistant Thom Ogonga 2016 Paul Munene
exhibition view “Of Ships Passing In The Night” at Alliance Française 2016 Alex Kamweru
participating artists and friends 2016 Paul Munene
Maseer Hassan Abdulrahman “Abwan” Barre Painting Paul Munene
L’Animal Amie Broche de l’Homme Abija Mugisha Chibiha Painting Paul Munene
No Title Gebremariam Mahlet Ecubaygorgiz Painting Paul Munene
The Crossing Patrick Mukabi Painting 2016 Paul Munene
No Title Tariku Feleke Painting Paul Munene
Talk at the shore Shabu Mwangi Painting 2016 tbc
There Are Worlds Out There They Never Told You About
Citizens of the world ? Longinos Nagila Painting 2016 Paul Munene
No Title Stephanel Thakiy Koang Painting Paul Munene
Ray “Piwi” Ochieng Photography 2016 Ray “Piwi” Ochieng
Twikanatumbili Kivuthi Mbuno Painting Paul Munene
Papers of Freedom - Number? Martin Onyis Mixed Media 2016 Paul Munene
Libya Muktar Bashir Mudey Painting Paul Munene
No Title Hamwenayo Viviene Tresor Drawing Paul Munene
Jackie Karuti Installation, Video 2016 Alex Kamweru
No Title Noor Ali Mudey Painting Paul Munene
No Title Alpha Mukange Mukangala Painting Paul Munene
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Tryptich Spanish Visa, German Visa, French Visa
Michael Soi Painting Paul Munene Little Things Mean a Lot William Wambugu Installation Courtesy of Roots Contemporary Gallery
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Trainer Oliver Malcor 2016 Paul Munene
65 right below
Scene during the theatre performance “Out Of The Box” 2016 Paul Munene
exhibition opening with speeches by the Adviser of Cooperation and Cultural Action of the French Embassy in Kenya, Jean-Pierre Tutin and the former cultural attaché of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Nairobi, Martin Falk 2016 Paul Munene
visitors of the photo exhibition “Migrants and Refugees: Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya” 2016 Alex Kamweru
view of the photo exhibition “Migrants and Refugees: Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya” 2016 Alex Kamweru view of the photo exhibition “Migrants and Refugees: Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya” 2016 Alex Kamweru visitor of the photo exhibition “Migrants and Refugees: Perceptions from France, Germany and Kenya” 2016 Paul Munene Scene during the theatre performance “Out Of The Box” 2016 Paul Munene
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Scene during the theatre performance “Out Of The Box” 2016 Paul Munene Scene during the theatre performance “Out Of The Box” 2016 Paul Munene Workshop participants receiving their certificates 2016 Paul Munene Musician Diribe Gada performing on stage during “Refugeenius” concert 2016 Paul Munene Musician Octopizzo performing on stage during “Refugeenius” concert 2016 Paul Munene Musician performing on stage during “Refugeenius” concert 2016 Paul Munene Musician Octopizzo performing on stage during “Refugeenius” concert 2016 Paul Munene
Musician performing on stage during “Refugeenius” concert 2016 Paul Munene
crowd enjoying the “Refugeenius” concert