What we do



Follow ODI

Public narratives and attitudes towards refugees and other migrants: Kenya country profile

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Irina Mosel, Amy Leach, Karen Hargrave

Hero image description: Nairobi, Kenya Image credit:Nina R Image license:CC BY 2.0

This briefing presents an overview of the key features of migration and asylum policy in Kenya, recent trends in migration, refugee and asylum patterns, public perceptions and political narratives on refugees and other migrants:

  • Refugees and other migrants represent 2% (around one million people) of Kenya’s overall population. Many have migrated to the country to study, fill labour market gaps in the growing economy, or to seek refuge after displacement.
  • Kenya’s approach to refugee-hosting has evolved significantly over time. While earlier arrivals could work, move and settle across the country, from the early 1990s Kenya’s dominant approach has been one of encampment.
  • There are various, sometimes conflicting, narratives around refugees and migrants in Kenya. For example, while Kenya’s government has been more positive on the international stage, domestic narratives have often been negative, portraying refugees and other migrants as a threat to national security.
  • Kenya is an example of good private sector practice within the region, with significant investments targeting refugee populations.

The briefing is part of a wider project, supported by the IKEA Foundation, that aims to engage public and private investors interested in migration and displacement.

Karen Hargrave and Irina Mosel with Amy Leach