Workforce Training for Kenyan Refugees
Many people have to uproot their entire lives and flee their homelands due to poverty, lack of opportunities, conflict and violence. Even after relocating to a potentially better country, many refugees struggle to assimilate into society because they are unable to obtain stable job opportunities due to a lack of education or skill inadequacy. To help alleviate this issue, the U.N. Refugees Agency (UNHCR) and the computer technology company Oracle are partnering on an information technology workforce training program for Kenyan refugees to upskill and look toward a potential career in the IT sector.

The Refugee Situation in Kenya

With an estimated total of nearly 530,000 refugees currently situated in Kenya, the country is the second-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa after Ethiopia. Somalian refugees comprise 54% of the total refugees in Kenya, followed by Sudanese refugees at 24.6% and Congolese refugees at 9%. South Sudan, the “world’s youngest country,” broke into conflict again in 2013, forcing millions to flee the only home they ever knew because of war, economic distress, disease and hunger. Children comprise nearly 63% of Sudanese refugees.

Civil war has affected Somalia for roughly 30 years, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the situation in the country. Floods and locust infestations bombarded the country, which has led to poor and unsanitary living conditions, food insecurity, disease and increased crime.

The political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as violence and disease, caused millions to flee the country in search of a better place to live. The country has seen the second-worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded in history, worsening the living conditions for many in the country and forcing citizens to flee their homes. There are several UNHCR camps in Kenya: Dadaab, Kakuma and a diaspora of camps in the capital, Nairobi. Nearly 44% of all refugees live in Dadaab, 40% reside in Kakuma and 16% reside in Nairobi.

Oracle’s IT Certification Program

With successful completion of the IT workforce training program, refugees gain IT skills on Oracle’s cloud-based technology and a course completion certificate from Oracle University. This qualification will help refugees gain employment within Africa’s growing IT sector.

“As digital transformation gathers pace across Africa, programming skills continue to be in high demand. This training program is designed to help prepare young learners to kickstart a rewarding career in the IT industry, directly empowering the youth in refugee camps to sustain their livelihood,” said Oracle Kenya Country Leader David Bunei.

Amid Africa’s “digital transformation, anyone with programming skills will be extremely vital to the Information and Communications Technology Industry.” IT skills can pave the way to a better future for many Kenyan refugees by helping them secure higher-paying, skilled employment to earn an income and rise out of poverty.

The workforce training program will deliver professional learning courses to the refugee diaspora in Kenya primarily focusing on Oracle Cloud technologies. This will help them develop a solid background in information technology. This program is vital because refugees in Kenya lack professional certification and industry-driven skills. In collaboration with the UNHCR, Zinger Solutions Limited, Oracle’s workforce development partner and a member of Oracle PartnerNetwork will specifically train the refugees on Oracle Cloud technologies.

Empowering Refugees with Skills and Education

Kenyan refugees residing in the diaspora of the Nairobi camps and the Kakuma camp have received training on Java SE8 programming and Java SE8 fundamentals. Java skills can aid in creating apps, building games, coding websites and much more. Overall, Oracle and UNHCR are uniting to address the issue of inadequate skills and education, helping refugees secure job opportunities for a better and brighter future.

Matthew Port Louis
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Kenya
During the early 1990s, Kenya formed a repatriation program, the Dadaab refugee camp, for thousands of displaced Somalians escaping rebel attacks, drought, continuous violence and abuse.

  1. Islamic extremists displaced thousands of Kenyans housed in the Dadaab refugee camp. Now the country is requesting that more than 260,000 refugees in Kenya return to Somalia for concern of Somalia-based al-Shabab Islamic extremists launching attacks within the Kenyan camp. After numerous deadly attacks from 2011-2015, the government announced in May the closure of Dadaab for immediate national security interests.
  2. World leaders don’t agree with deporting refugees back to Somalia. Kenyan officials are tentatively closing Dadaab at the end of 2016. However, the Human Rights Watch says sending refugees back to Somalia doesn’t meet international standards of a voluntary return.
  3. They have Somalian blood, but are Kenyan-bred. On average, refugees are in exile for about 20 years, according to the U.N. refugee agency. In Northeastern Kenya, nestled in close proximity to Somalia’s border, the Dabaab camp has been home to residents for a quarter of a century. Some have never stepped foot on Somalian soil.
  4. Refugees are being lured with a cash advance to return. Many Somalian refugees were told they would be deprived of a $400 U.N. cash grant because of forced extradition, according to the Human Rights Watch. Dadaab refugees have been given inadequate information about potential dangers during their forced exit.
  5. Resources in Somalia don’t exist for the influx of Kenyan refugees to return. Some Somalian refugees who returned to their home country have fled back to Kenya again due to continuous violence and nonexistent resources and services. The deported refugees seeking asylum were unable to reestablish themselves in Somalia, and now they are denied access to refugee registration, or asylum procedures in Dadaab. This leaves a large percentage of displaced peoples without legal status or access to food.
  6. Force and coercion used on refugees are not tolerated by world leaders. While the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta claims the process of repatriation will be voluntary and humane, countries internationally say they will reprimand evictions using force. However, many refugees inhabiting Kenya agree to the return for fear of coercion and force if they stay in Kenya, but they will face danger, persecution and hunger in Somalia.
  7. Refugees are involuntarily returning to insecure conditions and poverty. “The Kenyan authorities are not giving Somali refugees a real choice between staying and leaving, and the UN refugee agency isn’t giving people accurate information about security conditions in Somalia,” said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no way these returns can be considered voluntary.”
  8. Kenyan refugees have no choice but to leave. Dadaab’s refugees reported feeling trapped by the government’s decision to shut down the camp. Many are afraid of returning to Somalia, but simultaneously fear the handcuffs and deportation of staying in Dadaab until the end of the year.
  9. The Dadaab refugee camp is a city full of resources and services. The refugee camp is the largest safe haven worldwide, and was initially created to host roughly 90,000 refugees searching for relief from rebels fighting the Somalian government in 1991. Now it spans five camps with makeshift cinemas, soccer leagues, bustling businesses, schools, hospitals and a graveyard.
  10. Refugees are forced into danger and left without community support. In mid-August, roughly 24,000 Somalian refugees had left Dadaab and gone back to their country of origin since the beginning of the repatriation process in December 2014. Kenya’s government reported to Human Rights Watch that in mid-August they were aiding the return of 1,000 refugees per day. Negotiations of repatriations are ongoing because refugees aren’t being sufficiently assisted upon their return to Somalia.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr