U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec Commemorates 2014 World Refugee Day

Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County, Kenya

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec honored 2014 World Refugee Day, June 20th, by visiting three projects that are improving the health care of refugees in Kakuma refugee camp.  The sites included the International Organization for Migration (IOM) screening facility, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) laboratory, and the Norwegian Refugee Council Sanivation Site.  Ambassador Godec joined the Governor of Turkana County Josephat Nanok and others in an event commemorating the day.

The focus of this year’s World Refugee Day was ‘one family torn apart by war is too many.’  Ambassador Godec spoke at the event, saying, “We join countless others worldwide to recognize and honor the strength, bravery and determination of women, men, and children who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence, persecution, and scarcity of food.  We also gather to recognize the commitment and generosity of the countries, like Kenya, and the organizations that provide these people protection and assistance during difficult times.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) work together to provide preventive health care to refugees who are being resettled to the United States.

At the IOM Screening Facility, refugees are provided health screening and vaccination for infectious diseases.  CDC’s Division of Global Migration and PRM are partnering on a vaccination project that began in September 2013.  CDC and PRM are co-funding this project for approved refugee applicants in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).  The goal of the project is to provide cost-effective public health interventions, improve refugee health, and limit the number of vaccinations refugees will need after they arrive in the U.S.

The CDC Kenya Refugee Health Program (RHP) also works closely with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps.  Since 2006, RHP has provided support to IRC for building laboratory capacity in both camps.  In the last two years, the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC funded the renovation of the laboratory in the IRC hospital compound.  The laboratory renovation was completed in April 2014 and is now operational.  There was a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, 20 June, as Ambassador Godec officially opened the laboratory.

The Norwegian Refugee Council Sanivation Project has developed a simple method for treating toilet waste and repurposing it into fuel briquettes using solar energy.  The project is also creating user-friendly toilets for refugees.  They hope to reduce the household need for traditional charcoal and wood, thus reducing local environmental degradation.