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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union, 2019 (photographer: Brian Inganga)


Kenya hosts nearly 700,000 refugees and asylum seekers. They are dependent on humanitarian assistance, even for their most basic needs.

After 5 consecutive poor rain seasons, compounded with the impact of COVID-19 and rising commodity prices, food insecurity in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands is increasing. Some 1.5 million people are projected to be  acutely food insecure until at least January 2024.

The EU continues its longstanding assistance to refugees in Kenya and responds to disaster-related emergencies.

What are the needs?

Kenya has revised its intention to close all refugee camps by June 2022. With the 2021 Refugee Act, there is a process of looking at converting camps into settlements.

Meanwhile, refugees, mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Burundi , continue to arrive, including unaccompanied minors.

They are most likely to remain in Kenya, as for most of them, returning home safely does not seem possible anytime soon. In the course of 2022, over 110,000 undocumented persons have been profiled but not yet registered in the Dadaab complex.

The registration of Somali asylum seekers has been put on hold since 2016. However, in early March 2023, the Government of Kenya agreed to register the undocumented individuals, including the newly-arrived refugees. They also agreed to re-open Ifo II camp in Dadaab.

Kenya: a day with new arrivals at the Dadaab refugee camp 02
Bishara Hassan, 30, tells us how they left their village en masse, with 5 other families. “Everyone left. We had not seen rain for 3 years, and there was no sign of rain coming. We were a group of about 25 people, and it took us 3 days to get here.”
©European Union, 2022 (photographer: Bertha Wangari)

Refugees cannot leave the camps due to the encampment policy, and their access to services and aid depends on international assistance.

At the peak of the 2023 drought, over 4.4 million people in the arid and semi-arid lands were acutely food insecure. This was due to 5 consecutive poor rain seasons and increasing food prices.

Despite slight improvements due to better performing rains during the first part of the March-May rainy season, around 946,000 children still face acute malnutrition.

Due to low harvests and declining livestock conditions, families’ income and food stocks dry up, increasing food prices. Moreover, the effects of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on the international markets will continue to push food prices up.

The situation is expected to further deteriorate as the El Niño effect is now translating into heavy rains, flash floods, and landslides. This brings about devastating consequences for thousands of people.

Kenya country map

How are we helping?

In 2023, the EU is allocating €16.2 million in humanitarian funding for Kenya, including €1.5 million for disaster preparedness.  

Over the years, the EU has maintained its humanitarian support for refugee operations in Kenya. EU humanitarian actions have helped:

  • secure safe, and dignified living conditions for refugees, including access to essential services like health and education
  • build the resilience of refugees and host communities in the arid parts of Kenya, where refugee camps are situated
  • support authorities in preparing for emergencies
  • respond to food security emergencies for the most vulnerable people in arid and semi-arid lands.

In the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support the provision of basic life-saving aid such as (i) food assistance; (ii) healthcare; (ii) nutritional assistance; (iv) water, sanitation and hygiene; (v) protection; and (vi) education.

EU humanitarian aid helps health facilities offer comprehensive services, including in-patient wards for refugee and host communities. It also provides clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion to prevent illnesses.

Care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and preventive work with communities in the camps is also provided.

The EU contributes to the education of refugees and young people. We provide learning opportunities for more than 135,000 pupils enrolled in schools in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps.

The situation is worse for girls and other vulnerable learners, such as children with disabilities. They are often left behind in an increasingly resource-scarce education environment.

The EU supports education projects targeting children with disabilities and requires that at least 50% of the beneficiaries are girls.

Last updated: 29/11/2023

Facts & figures

Hosts more than 676,000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR)

1.5 million people require humanitarian assistance

Over 946,000 children aged 6 to 59 months need malnutrition treatment

EU humanitarian funding:
€16.2 million in 2023
more than €240 million since 2012