Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Somali Factor in Urban Kenya

The Rift Valley Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, published in March 2015 a summary of conference results titled "Eastleigh and Beyond: The Somali Factor in Urban Kenya."  The conference took place in September 2014 in Nairobi.

Key points included the realization that Nairobi's Eastleigh neighborhood hosts one of the largest ethnic Somali communities outside Somalia.  It includes Kenyan Somalis as well as those who have migrated from Somalia.  With the rise of al-Shabaab, Eastleigh's Somalis are now often associated with terrorism.  In 2014, the Kenyan government targeted Eastleigh in a massive security sweep.  Thousands were detained and an estimated 500 were deported. 

Many Kenyans question  the right of Somalis to live outside refugee camps.  Somalis in Eastleigh, many of whom are Kenyan by birth and descent, resist their narrow stereotyping as interlopers in Kenya and as agents of terrorism and continue to assert their right to live and work in the neighborhood.

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