|Kenya – The Provincial visits the Salesian centre in the Kakuma refugee camp|
|Kenya – Bishops, street children, refugees … around Don Bosco|
|Kenya – “Karibu Sana Salesiani”, the gratitude of the UNO High Commissioner|
(ANS – Rome) – The General Assembly of the United Nations decided that 20 June should be World Refugee Day, as a sign of solidarity with Africa, the continent with the largest number of refugees in the world. At Salesian level, the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid has launched an appeal for help for refugees in Kenya: “Kakuma is more than full.”
“The refugee camp in Kakuma is more than full at present” is the message from the Salesian Mission Office in Madrid quoting the words of Fr Philip Sajan a Salesian missionary working in central Kenya. The Kakuma camp is in the north of the country and houses over 96,000 people. About 50% are refugees from Somalia, “but the numbers are increasing of those coming from Southern Sudan, because of the problems there, and from Burundi”.
Salesian missionaries have been working in Kakuma for a number of years. Here in addition to the more urgent needs they are also looking for long term solutions, and are providing training and literacy courses for the refugees. “About half of them are under 18 years of age and it is necessary to keep their hopes up.” Fr Sajan continues. “Many are interested in English and computer studies, but we can’t help all of them for shortage of means. We need more space for training, new computers and other material. Then there are over 200 children who go to school and they need exercise books and other school materials”.
On World Refugee Day the Madrid Mission Office reminds us that in the world there are over 44 million people living far from their homes, the figure for the last 15 years according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In recent times there are over 300,000 refugees from the north of Mali; 2 million escaping from natural disasters as well as the 1,200 and 1,500 who every month escape from the paramilitary groups in Colombia in Ecuador.
Other official figures indicate that 80% of the refugees are from poor countries and 75% go to neighbouring countries. 50% of the refugees being cared for by UNHCR at present are Afghans or Iracheni and half the total of refugees in the world– about 22 millions – are under 25 years of age.
Nowadays many countries are responding to this situation and making it better known: though marches, conferences, campaigns, university meeting, among NGO, public debates, photographic exhibitions and other media programmes mobilising public opinion about the pain and suffering of the refugees.