FOREIGNERS AT ‘HOME’
The traditional image of life in tented, sprawling camps no longer tells the full refugee story. As the world urbanizes, refugees too are moving to build up areas including large towns and cities.
President Uhuru’s maiden speech during his 2nd term inauguration ceremony stated, “Our Brothers and Sisters in the East African Community; from today, you will be treated like Kenyans. Like your Kenyan brothers and sisters, you will need only your identity card. You can now work, do business; own property, farm and if you wish, and find a willing partner, you can marry and settle in Kenya. And this commitment we make with no conditions for reciprocity but driven by our desire for deeper regional integration. As l welcome you, l remind you that equally you shall be subject to the same rules and laws as your Kenyan brothers and sisters”.
Foreigners may use the president’s statement above as a loophole to enter in and out of the country freely which may cause xenophobic attacks as witnessed in South Africa. An unmatched influx of migrants into the country may lead to a myriad of challenges ranging from terrorism to the Islamic extremism, economic gloom, joblessness and already strained social welfare amenities increase rapidly.
The prospect that the migrants first stop will be the Nairobi metropolis cannot be ruled out due to the fact that many facilities, government installations and institutions are located within. Once settled an upsurge of crime and terror activities are likely to pop up.
For decades now, Kenya has welcomed and hosted refugees and asylum seekers from Somali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda,DRC and SouthSudan.The Capital has become a haven for them in the hope of finding a sense of community, safety and economic independence. A decry over the influx of indolent foreign nationals in Nairobi estates has raised concern noting that some immigrants are engaging in illegal activities.
The Department of immigration has been accused of illegally issuing Kenyan passports to Non-Kenyans who are alleged to be involved in illegal drug businesses, human trafficking as well as those escaping war torn neighboring countries. The Immigration officials solicit for bribes and work in cahoots with police officers to extort money from foreigners seeking immigration documents in haste.In May this year the government ordered all foreigners with work permit to surrender them to the Immigration department for authentication. Majority of those who surrendered were shocked on realizing that their receipts were fake, making the entire documents to be illegal exposing the rot in the department. The exercise was aimed at digitalizing the foreigners’ documents for easy to identification. During the exercise interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i revealed that the taxpayers lose ksh. 360 million annually, to deport illegal immigrants. He however said that the government was proposing amendments to have the illegal immigrants pay for their tickets back to their home countries. TheExistence of weaknesses and loopholes in the policies and methods of work applied by the Department is a reflection of poor governance systems that is compromising our National Security.
The expansive and fast growing Mihang’o area in Utawala comprising of Hurligham east, Buru Buru farmers, Shelisheli, Riverside and capital hill estates are rented out apartments to Nigerians who engage in drug trafficking, pornography and money laundering especially during nighttime. A background check shows that they spend their day sleeping and only go out at night. What they do for a living is unknown.
Similar to many urban immigrants the Congolese have made their households in the capital too.They are scattered in suburbs such as Santon in Kasarani, Kayole, Roysambu, Umoja and Githurai.Being Christians and Swahilispeakers, the Congolese haveeasily integrated into the Kenyan society. They engage themselves in economic activities having significant but complex economic interactions with the host communities however they remain cautious to avoid detection by security agencies. The little Knowledge of Swahili language enables them acquire jobs that help them navigate the city’s informal economy. Additionally, their tolerance to tougher working conditions and low wages is an advantage to them over Kenyans who want to earn a higher wage. They pose as construction workers, grocers, beauticians, salonists and tailors to make ends meet.
On the other hand,the Rwandese have infiltrated into the country in the guise of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They come into the metropolis and are hosted by their fellow countrymen popularly referred to as ‘Chairmen’ who enable them to get manual jobs without necessarily having work permits. Some are placed to work in barber shops and salons in Umoja estate, estates along Thika road and Outer Ring roads, while others engage in selling milk, fabrics and coffee drinks in the evenings on behalf of the said “Chairmen” to generate commissions for them. This alsofacilitates for their upkeep and processing of their documentsto help them resettle in and outside Kenya, especially in the United States of America (USA).
While in the country, the illegal immigrants acquire mobile phone numbers which are registered using Kenyan Identification cards (ID) whose sources remain unknown. It is believed that some state agencies facilitate the generation of national or alien registration documents by manipulating the proper procedures hence interfering with service delivery as well as posing a threat to National security. Nevertheless, a possibility of trading in these documents by trafficking cartels and government officials remains a mystery that is hard to unfold. Therefore, there is a need for Kenyans to embrace “Nyumba kumi” initiative to be able to detect any illegal foreigner and their activities and report to the relevant authorities for actions. Being patriotic is the only solution left that will save our country from all this vices.