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How fake Kenyan refugees settle in the US and Europe



"We took the opportunity before us and did not take it for granted," he says, speaking with a broad American accent. "We followed the American dream, as they call it. We all went to school and we all graduated.

But his family members were not refugees and they were not born in Somalia – they were born in Kenya and says he is a father he falsified their refugee status in the 1990s in order to enter the US.

"I feel bad for them [the real refugees] but at the same time everything is the first time I came. I feel if they were come before us, then we would remain those and they would be the ones to go, "he says.

He agreed to speak with CNN on condition of anonymity, fearing

the status of refugees should be maintained for people fleeing internationally through persecution or war.

But in Kenya, home to one of the largest refugee populations on the planet, tens of thousands of registered refugees are not refugees at all.

A CNN investigation found that from the late 1

990s to 2016, countless of these fugitive refugees were resettled in the United States and elsewhere.

Widespread Asylum

For decades, the chaos in Kenya's troubled neighbor, Somalia, has been driving wave after wave of refugees across the country. They used to get on buses, donkeys, and sometimes on foot.

But as the number of people moving to what used to be the largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya swelled from thousands, to tens of thousands, to hundreds of thousands – there were many who registered as refugees who did not qualify [19659002] "We have Kenyans who have been on the refugee database for the last 25 years. Some of them have been looking for food, shelter, opportunities," said Mohammed Dahie, a Kenyan member of the Dadaab parliament.

He said that many people in the surrounding communities saw free services and free food and registered in the camps, saying they were from Somalia. Often, these Kenyans were of similar ethnicity to the people running across the border. Sometimes they are just as desperate for help, many arriving during drought and famine in northern Kenya.

   MP Mohamed Dahie says his government needs to do more to eliminate the thousands of fake refugees still in the system so they can

All told, there are at least 40,000 Kenyans registered as refugees in the Dadaab camps alone, both by UNHCR and government numbers, in what staff euphemistically call "double registration".

"Double registration, as we call it, or Kenyans registered as refugees in Dadaab is a matter we know about and the government also knows," said Fatiah Abdallah, a UNHCR representative in Kenya.

It does not blame Kenyans.

"I think as a person you want to survive. You want to survive and you have no ill intention. These services were available at the refugee camp, but it is not available to you in the village," she said.

"Double registration"

Omar Sharif did not live anywhere near Dadaab's camp – he lived hundreds of miles away on the coast of Kenya. And in 2009, he saw his opportunity.

"A friend of mine worked as a camp teacher and told me about free education and free medical services," Sharif said, acknowledging that resettlement was also a possible goal. [19659002] He escaped from school and traveled to Dadaab, introducing himself to servants as Somalis who fled across the border.

  Omar Sharif holds his birth certificate in Kenya. He never set foot in Somalia, but it only took him a few minutes to register as a Somali refugee.

At that time, only the most basic evidence of nominal value was needed, as potential refugees needed immediate food and medicine.

"They didn't question me. If they did, I would have told them where I was from. They asked only my age. And they just filled in the form for me," he said.

"I knew it was wrong," he said. "Someone who entered the refugee database and is a fake refugee made a mistake because they had taken someone else's rightful place."

He says that despite the help, he quickly realized that he couldn't handle it. the harsh conditions of the camp and moved to Nairobi in hopes of regaining Kenya's status.

But guilt is not Sharif's only burden; his refugee registration has become an inadmissible Catch-22.

"This is my birth certificate in Kenya," Sharif said as he removed a black carry case from his bed in Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali neighborhood in the city.

"This is my refugee number," he said, showing his unique ID on his mobile phone.

  In Kenya, there are nearly 500,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in camps like Dadaab, once in the world & # 39; is the largest.

When Kenya announced that it would close the camps and begin repatriation of Somalis, the refugee status suddenly became a responsibility for people like Sharif.

"They will not have Kenyan status and do not belong to Somalia, so they are essentially stateless," says Dahab, a Dadaab MP.

Refugees like Sharif say they cannot access health care, official jobs, insurance and any number of services available to Kenyans. He says his government needs to do more to eliminate the thousands of fake refugees who are still in the system so they can restore their Kenyan identity.

As "winning the lottery"

UN officials liken resettlement, even as a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment spread across Europe and the US to "win the lottery".

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that by the end of 2018, there were over 20 million potential applicants for resettlement; less than 1% of them were resettled this year.

Through social media and relatives left in Kenya, CNN has identified several Kenyans who must not have refugee status who are able to not only register but also to reside as refugees in Europe, Canada and the US. [19659002] This is a highly sensitive topic in Kenya.

An official spokesman for the Government of Kenya and the head of the Secretariat for Refugees (RAS) declined to be interviewed for this story.

But a senior official in charge of Dadaab's camp system acknowledged that the resettlement was for fake refugees.

"It is very unfortunate, but they were attracted to the blessings they could receive in these countries. They used the opportunity to be resettled and it is unfortunate that they took the chance of discouraged refugees. I do not think this will it happened again, "Joe Nguli, a senior official at Dadaab told RAS.

Abdullah, a UNHCR representative, stated that he was not aware of the successful resettlement of all counterfeit refugees.

"I am not aware that Kenyans are migrating as refugees. I tell you why, because the resettlement program goes through different checks and balances, "Abdullah said, adding that she was confident that the system would catch Kenyans seeking to settle as Somali refugees.

The UNHCR's official resettlement handbook states that resettlement is "particularly vulnerable" to fraud. In Kenya, as in other countries, they support a zero-tolerance policy on corruption.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy, we have fraud commissions, we have a focal point for anti-fraud in the camps, we have a refugee assistance line or anyone. You can enter our helpline right away and report everything. These systems are very good and work, "Abdallah said.

" I'm not saying [in] this big organization. We are 100% perfect. But we have measures, we have improved them over the last two years. But we cannot rule out a case. happens to our staff, they are disciplined, sanctioned and some employees (have) lost their jobs. "

The United States states that the screening of refugees is vigorous. In 2018, the Trump administration introduced" enhanced screening measures "affecting refugees from 11 countries, including Somalia.

A State Department spokesman said the U.S. have a "zero tolerance policy on fraud, waste and abuse of US taxpayer resources," adding that "the US conducts in-depth interviews and security screening of refugee applicants. This process includes measures to verify the nationality of refugee applicants. "

" Cooked "from the beginning

But for the" facilitators "" in the process – the intermediaries who collect and distribute the money for bribery – this is the most important first layer of verification by the Kenyan government and the UN.

"This is at the very beginning of the process – before the applicant even reaches the US Embassy for screening, the selection is made at the UN level," one facilitator said , who said he was using UN corruption to play on the reassurance system

He agreed to speak on condition of anonymity

  When Kenya announced that it would close Dadaab and other camps and began repatriating Somalis, the refugee status suddenly became responsible for Kenyans, falsely registered.

"The UN will know the criteria and make sure that paying customers meet all the requirements. So, it can be prepared at the UN level," he said.

He said that the last corrupt resettlement process in the US in which he participated, where clients were paying between $ 10 and $ 20,000 to secure resettlement, took place at the end of 2016.

Trump was a thriving business, "he said. Now his business is focused on other countries where the refugee resettlement quotas are higher. He said his last case was only a few months ago.

Are you buying?

President Donald Trump's first so-called "travel ban" in early 2017 made refugee resettlement even more difficult.

The ban includes a moratorium on refugees. And as the moratorium expires, only a bunch of refugees enter.

But even with the push for refugee resettlement in the United States and multiple on-the-spot checks, this has not stopped people from trying.

The young Kenyan of his twenties is nervous, flying over his expensive white sneakers. He said his key to refugee status was purchased through a different facilitator.

"I met him through a friend. And my friend told me he did it for so many others," he said.

CNN agreed not to disclose his identity because his attempts to buy a relocation were illegal.

Together with his brother, he said that they pay the facilitator $ 300 each to receive refugee status.

They were recently taken to a refugee reception center in Nairobi.

"He told me to say that I was born in Somalia, that I came across the border in a bus full of people. That we were running from there," he said, though he had never set foot in Somalia. Shortly after receiving their refugee cards and numbers.

They plan to pay the broker $ 12,000 in hopes of joining the US.

"Everything tells you. There is a lot of corruption. People are ready to do anything for money," he said.

At this stage, it is impossible to verify whether the broker will be able to take siblings to the United States. And there are cases of broker fraud.

However, for Kenyans hoping to forge their way into the system, the attraction to resettlement countries, including the United States, remains strong.

"It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong," the young Kenyan said of his plans. "But if you can, you can have a better life."


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