• Kenya has been host to a protracted refugee crisis since the early 1990’s resulting in the current population of well over 600,000 refugees in Kenya’s refugee camps and well over 100,000 refugees currently reside in Nairobi, most of whom are not registered with the Government of Kenya or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

  • Among the worst affected by this crisis are unaccompanied, orphaned and separated refugee girls and single young women without family members.

  • The continued influx of refugees into Kenya’s refugee camps further exacerbates issues of overcrowding, security, and access to basic resources like clean water and sanitation, health services and basic education.

  • Most refugees, particularly those fleeing Somalia, seek refuge in Dadaab Refugee Camp, located along the Somali border and approximately 300 miles northwest of Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Growing numbers of refugees are migrating from the camps or bypassing the camps altogether and fleeing directly to Nairobi from the border. There are also growing reports of smuggling of girls and young women from the refugee camps and Congolese girls from the Ugandan border to Nairobi. 


Separated and Unaccompanied Refugee Girls and Young Women

  • Separated and unaccompanied refugee children and youth are considered the most vulnerable and invisible population in the world, with refugee girls and young women facing the highest risks of exploitation, assault, forced marriage, and abuse, resulting in extreme barriers to education, medical care, and employment.

  • There are no statistics revealing the number of unaccompanied refugee children in Nairobi, especially girls and also young women who are just over 18 years of age, but Heshima Kenya and UNHCR believe this number to be over 25,000.

  • Classified by human rights organizations as “unaccompanied,” most have fled from persecution in the nearby countries of Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • The refugee children and youth Heshima Kenya serves are often survivors of unimaginable atrocities including having had to flee persecution in their countries and being torn from their family members, many of whom have been killed or have disappeared in war.

  • With very limited access to formal assistance in Nairobi, such as shelter, education, and medical care, refugee girls cope with extreme poverty and the physical and emotional scars from war and, in many cases, prior abuse and exploitation.