Thousands of Kenyans have participated in the second UNHCR Step for Safety annual walk in support of refugees who have been displaced because of conflict and persecution in the East African region and across Africa.
The Step for Safety walk is an initiative of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s LuQuLuQu campaign. The campaign draws attention to the plight of forcibly displaced people and strives to change the public perception of the refugee narrative by highlighting their resilience.
“Kenya hosts more than 475,000 refugees with close to 80 per cent of them being women and children. Having met some of the people behind these numbers, I am continuously impressed and inspired by their talent, ambition and potential,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR Representative in Kenya.
“Kenyans have responded to the LuQuLuQu campaign’s call for action energetically. This second Step for Safety walk is a wonderful way in which we as a community can honour the strength and perseverance of people that, even though were forced to flee and leave everything behind, are determined to build a better life,” she added.
UNHCR Goodwill ambassador, Mercy Masika led popular artistes Avril and Elani in participating in the public walk in Nairobi, as well as performing for the crowd.
The pan-African walk is organized to raise awareness and support for families forced to flee their homes because of violence, conflict, or persecution across Africa. It was inaugurated in Nairobi last year with 1500 people in attendance and has since then been held in Somalia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Senegal and South Africa.
An array of family-friendly activities is planned post-walk including an educational simulation exercise for participants to learn about UNHCR’s work in refugee registration, provision of core relief items, and tour of UNHCR tents. Other activities include market stalls exhibiting refugee artisan handicrafts, children-friendly stations, and musical performances by Mercy Masika, Elani, Avril and others.
“I am proud to be part of LuQuLuQu family. In walking together, we are demonstrating a united Africa for our forcibly displaced brothers and sisters across the continent. By taking this step for safety, we are invoking the ubuntu philosophy that is at the heart of LuQuLuQu – taking utmost care of each other,” commented Mercy Masika, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
The largest number of forcibly displaced people are in Africa – in 2018, over 35 per cent of the world’s 70.8 million displaced fled across the continent. All proceeds from the walk will go towards providing emergency relief to those forcibly displaced.