In December 2019, during the first African Refugee Summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 31st November – 2nd December 2019 in partnership with Open Society Foundation, Oxfam International and the Independent Diplomat. The ARN acting as an umbrella body for refugee-led organizations across Africa, this event brought together approximately 70 refugee delegates from across the continent. This summit provided refugees an opportunity to strengthen their network, consolidate their perspectives, and plan for their contribution in national, regional and global fora and processes.
It was recognized that there was a need for refugee representatives to address the challenges that cause their underrepresentation in decision-making tables and policymaking processes on areas of shared concern.
RELON-Kenya is a registered national network of RLO’s in Kenya as an association with the Registrar of Societies. The organization is a membership organization drawing members from both the urban and camp based refugee-led organizations.
The RELON-Kenya journey began shortly before the first Africa Refugee Summit that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in December 2019. A group of refugee leaders, drawn from different refugee-led organisations from across the African continent who came together and discussed the idea of creating an umbrella under which Refugee-Led Organisations would operate in, and ‘speak on one voice’ when advocating for refugee rights and interests.
Consequently, during the first African Refugee Summit 2019, the refugee leaders recognised the urgent need for refugees/refugee leaders to be at the decision-making tables and policymaking processes on matters affecting their day-to-day lives in a capacity equal to the other key stakeholders and partners. It was at this juncture that we reflected on the quote, ‘”Nothing for Refugees without refugees”.
A few months later, a committee was formed with an aim of bringing together like-minded refugee-led organizations and set up a collaborative and supportive forum among ourselves – thus the Refugee-Led Organization Network of Kenya (RELON-KENYA) was established, which is also working in collaboration with the regional umbrella known as “Africa Refugee-led Network (ARN)”, and an affiliate of Global Refugee-led Network (GRN).