Often times in any situation there are factors that cannot be overcome, the attempt at solutions to the Kenyan refugee problem is no exception. The UNHCR faces many constraints when trying to create viable solutions. Most refugees in Kenya are confined to the Dabaab and Kakuma refugee camp complexes. Existing in semi-arid regions of Northern and Eastern Kenya, respectively, there are limited natural resources. The region can barely support the local nomadic population let alone the thousands of refugees. The very number of refugees congregating to trade is detrimental to an already harsh climate, eating up what little natural resources there are.

That having been said, there are limited opportunities for trade. Similarly, the opportunity for employment is very limited, making it very difficult for refugees to become self-reliant. With self-reliance not being an attainable goal for a large bulk of the refugee population in Kenya, there has been a continued provision of material assistance, and resettlement to other countries.

The location of the camps near borders of warring nations cause great concern to the UNHCR and Kenyan government. The occurrence of armed bandits operating with impunity is quite high, allowing criminals to easily acquire weapons. Security has become a major issue within the camps, to such a great extent that in 1999 it led to the closure of Dabaab for a period of time.

The logical thing to do would be to relocate the camps. However, this is not a viable option. There simply is no alternative place to relocate that would have suitable land.

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© December, 2000 -- Rebecca Dudczak (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~rjdudcza)