Originally published on the Asylum Access website. See original here.
By: Jessica Therkelsen, Global Policy Director, Asylum Access
The Kenyan government’s decision this week to force all refugees to leave urban centers and report to camps violates human rights and represents a backslide in the government’s approach to urban refugees.
Host to nearly 700,000 refugees, Kenya has since 2006 implemented laws and policies that increasingly improve compliance with international human rights standards. Urban refugees have enjoyed legal status, access to employment, opportunity, and services outside of camps. Following recent attacks in Nairobi attributed to al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group, Kenya is now citing national security in its decision to send nearly 100,000 people to overcrowded and dangerous camps.
Under the new measure, these refugees will be forced to leave their rebuilt lives for internment in a camp with no access to freedom of movement and serious security risks.
Update from UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting: Secretary Clinton voices support for lawful employment opportunities
By: Jessica Morreale Therkelsen, Global Policy Manager, Asylum Access
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those highlighting the need for lawful employment for refugees and stateless persons at UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting this week. She focused her remarks on the importance of forward-looking policies to address the needs and rights of refugees and stateless persons and called on countries to turn their pledges into actions.
As we commemorate Labor Day and enjoy the long weekend, many refugees in Africa, Asia and Latin America still cannot feed their families because they are denied the right to work.
Asylum Access believes that refugees have the right to work. When we use this phrase, we are just going back to basics, centering our discussion on the four relevant rights outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention:
- wage-earning employment,
- access to liberal professions, and
- labor protections.
The right to work is a concept that appears repeatedly in international law, but it might surprise some that it also applies to refugees. In fact, during the drafting of the Refugee Convention itself, the US representative Louis Henkin said, “Without the right to work, all other rights were meaningless.”