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Introduction: Why Refugees Come to Nairobi

As mentioned above, many refugees arrive in Nairobi directly from the countries where they have been subjected to persecution. Although analysis of the root causes of refugee flight to Kenya is beyond the scope of this report, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented the problems of political repression, armed conflict, and other human rights abuses in Burundi,45 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),46 Ethiopia,47 Rwanda,48 Somalia,49 and Sudan.50

However, many other refugees choose to leave refugee camps within Kenya to come to Nairobi. Although this subject is discussed in more detail in Part III, refugees leave camps for one or a combination of several reasons including: inadequate humanitarian assistance, general insecurity and attacks, insecurity for particular individuals, or insufficient educational opportunities or medical care. To flee camps for Nairobi is often a very serious, even life-or-death decision made by refugees who believe they have no other choice.

Once they arrive in Nairobi, asylum seekers and refugees have few places to turn to meet their basic needs. UNHCR is the main organization responsible, and the primary service the agency provides in Nairobi is to assess and regularize the legal status of refugees. Goal, an Irish relief organization, is UNHCR's main implementing partner in Nairobi providing psychotherapeutic counseling and medical care. It also runs a large secure accommodation center. A few international NGOs and faith-based organizations provide some limited housing and food assistance to refugees, described in more detail below.

45 See, e.g. "Burundi: Government Forcibly Displaces Civilians," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, June 4, 2002; Human Rights Watch/Africa, To Protect the People: Government Sponsored Self-Defense Program in Burundi, December 14, 2001; "Burundi: Paramilitaries Commit Killings, Rapes," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, December 14, 2001.

46 See e.g. Human Rights Watch/Africa, The War Within the War: Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo, June 20, 2002; "Congo: Kisangani Residents Again Under Fire, Rwanda's Congolese Proxy Force Killing Civilians, Closing Civil Society Groups," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, May 24, 2002; "Congo: Ituri Civilians Need U.N. Protection," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, May 19, 2002; Human Rights Watch/Africa, War Crimes in Kisangani: The Response of the Rwandan-backed Rebels to the May 2002 Mutiny, Vol. 14, No. 6(A), August 2002..

47 See e.g. "Police Firing on Unarmed Protesters," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, June 11, 2002; "Ethiopia: Halt Crackdown on Oromo Students," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, May 22, 2002; "Ethiopia: Targeting Human Rights Defenders," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, May 8, 2001.

48 See, e.g., "Rwanda: Activists in Detention," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, January 31, 2002; "Rwanda: Opposition Politician Shot, Others Detained," Human Rights Watch/Africa Press Release, January 9, 2002; Human Rights Watch/Africa, Rwanda: Observing the Rules of War?, December 20, 2001.

49 See e.g. "Somalia: Child Soldiers Global Report 2001," the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (including Human Rights Watch), June 12, 2001; Somalia: Landmine Monitor Report 2000, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, August 1, 2000.

50 See e.g. "Sudan: Backgrounder on Danforth Report," Human Rights Watch/Africa Backgrounder, May 16, 2002; "Sudan: Year-Long Detention of Turabi," Human Rights Watch/Africa Letter to President El Bashir, March 15, 2002; "Slavery and Slave Redemption in Sudan," Human Rights Watch/Africa Backgrounder, March 15, 2002.

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