Situation Report

Sector Status




Nearly 500,000 refugees live in camps in the country. In the event of a potential spread of COVID-19 to refugee camps, including Dadaab and Kakuma, there is high concern that crowded living conditions and poor access to health, water and sanitation services could lead to high infection rates. Refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons in urban areas continue to be disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

The priority activities identified are the following:

  • Facilitate physical and electronic transmission of Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) content and materials to learners.

  • Support teachers to engage with and provide individual follow up to learners.

  • Enable students to access e-learning platforms.

  • Provide psychosocial support to learners and their families.

  • Provide learners with textbooks and workbooks.

  • Procure infection, prevention and control (IPC) material, including personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and equipment.

  • Communication with communities on COVID-19 prevention and response including referral pathways.

  • Establishing isolation facilities in each camp.

  • Surveillance, rapid response teams and case investigation.

  • Training of rapid response teams.

  • Training of lab techs on sample collection, handling and testing.

  • Sourcing for COVID-19 testing kits.

  • Procurement of equipment for isolation and treatment centres.

  • Dissemination of information on COVID-19, including referral pathways.

  • Protection, detention and border monitoring and response.

  • Support persons with specific needs.

  • Provide cash/in-kind support to vulnerable refugee and stateless households.

  • Support to refugees whose businesses are struggling due to COVID-19.

  • Enhance WASH capacity at hospitals, clinics, reception and transit facilities, schools and other communal facilities (incl. handwashing facilities, increased water supply and improved sanitation).

  • Support ongoing hygiene promotion in the camps, incl. procurement of 5-litre jerrycans converted to leaky tins, functioning as hand-washing stations in households and provision of extra water to cover increased need of hand washing.

  • Provision of 450mg of soap per person/month and sanitary kits to women of reproductive age.

  • Provide washing stations for stateless persons in urban areas.

  • Timely maintenance of water reticulation system.


  • Refugees and asylum-seekers are included in the Ministry of Education’s draft response plan. Stateless children are already included in the national system and are captured in the plan under other vulnerable groups.

  • A total of 104 camp-based schools have been identified for post-emergency support (i.e. teacher training and WASH). Another 500 schools that will receive support are located in urban informal settlements and therefore should cover some urban refugee learners.

  • The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) has provided UNHCR with audio content from the national radio education programme. UNHCR will facilitate broadcasting from local radio stations in the refugee camps.

  • UNHCR is expanding the provision of solar-powered radios, textbooks and other learning materials, aiming to finalize preparations before the beginning of the new term.

  • Teachers are being supported with mobile data to allow individual follow-up with their learners, while higher education students are receiving the same support to enable them to continue their studies online.

  • The Kenyan Ministry of Health has adopted an area-based response, which also includes refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons. UNHCR continues to work closely with the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), the Ministry of Health and other relevant authorities to ensure a coordinated response.

  • UNHCR has so far procured a stock of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), medication, 67 thermo guns and eight oxygen concentrators with 40 splitters, among others.

  • About 135 UNHCR and partner staff have received training on COVID-19 response from the Kenyan office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ministry of Health, supported by BPRM.

  • UNHCR has received 100,000 medical masks from its international supply and has already dispatched the majority to the camps. Some of the masks will be distributed to the counties.

  • Isolation facilities have been established in both camps. Additional facilities have been identified in the event of an overwhelming number of cases.

  • UNHCR, together with the Turkana and Garissa Counties, has set up structures in the refugee camps to ensure health screening and self-isolation of arrivals to the camps.

  • In order to support the host communities, in line with the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR), UNHCR has handed over to the Turkana County an ambulance, which will be used for the COVID-19 response in Turkana West. Another ambulance will be handed over to the Garissa County for the same purpose.

  • Both Kakuma and Dadaab camps are equipped with laboratories that can test for different conditions, such as HIV and tuberculosis. Discussions are ongoing to build the capacity of the labs to support COVID-19 Testing in Turkana and Garissa Counties, once the Ministry of Health decentralizes COVID-19 testing.

  • Refugees, both in the camps and in the urban areas, have been supported to start producing face masks, following the guidance and specifications of the Government of Kenya.

  • Responses to strengthen child protection and address the risk of abuse and exploitation given that the parents/caregivers are at home with reduced economic opportunities, individual case management is ongoing with required adaptation including remote counseling, and regular Child Protection Working Group meetings are being held remotely to identify trends and provide responses.

  • Information on available helplines to report SGBV is widely disseminated, including those operated by the government and other agencies.

  • SGBV prevention and mitigation services are ongoing through case management, availability of hotlines, remote counselling, supplementary feeding, material support, CBI through multi-purpose cash grants and skills building and women empowerment initiatives. Radio shows and megaphones on cars are being used to spread key messages on prevention and risk mitigation. Referral pathways have been updated.

  • Many protection activities in the camps continue remotely. For example, in Kakuma, resettlement interviews are conducted virtually to ensure that submissions move forward.

  • Even though the Processing Centre in Nairobi remains closed, UNHCR is working closely with RAS to address urgent cases. Supplementary hygiene materials and PPE have also been provided to RAS offices in urban areas to allow for premises to re-open, when possible.

  • Hygiene measures have been enhanced in public spaces, with additional soap procured, handwashing points installed around the camps and water supply increased. Temperature screening has also been introduced at service delivery points (e.g. food distribution centres, reception centres, out-patient clinics and hospitals).


  • The RAS Processing Centre in Nairobi remains closed. Therefore, there is no access to registration, documentation or Refugee Status Determination (RSD).

  • Increasing restrictions on movements of people, goods and services, including supply chains, may impact UNHCR and its partners’ continued ability to service the refugee camp populations.

  • Current resources are insufficient to meet the high demand for psycho-social support and mental health services.