HIAS in Kenya

Founded: 2002
Staff Size: 55
Country Director: Lucy Kiama
Office Locations: Nairobi: Eastleigh, Kayole, Kawangware, Mimosa


According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Kenya is host to approximately 474,044 refugees and asylum seekers, the majority of whom are from Somalia. Other countries of origin include South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Uganda, Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. As the overall population of refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya countrywide has decreased, mainly due to the voluntary repatriation of Somalis, the urban refugee population in Nairobi has increased and now stands at nearly 73,829 registered refugees and asylum seekers. 



HIAS serves between 1000 and 1400 beneficiaries each month. In addition to its three field offices in Kayole, Kawangware, and Eastleigh neighborhoods, HIAS also conducts weekly outreach clinics in Rongai, Kasarani, and Kitengela to serve more vulnerable refugees and bring services closer to the community. We also conduct child protection assessments and missions in Mombasa, Nakuru, Kilifi, and Meru Counties and train foster parents to provide appropriate care to unaccompanied minors. There has been an influx of LGBTQ refugees from Kakuma camp to Nairobi since December 2018. HIAS is well-known for its specialized programming for LGBTQ refugees and has been a trusted service provider for this community for more than a decade.



Working with urban refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya since 2002, HIAS has gained technical expertise and experience in comprehensive needs assessment. HIAS Kenya focuses on the most at-risk refugee populations and cutting-edge service provision, integrating best practices based on internationals standards with a focus on community-based protection and empowerment. 
HIAS Kenya has a number of programs, including: helping LGBTQ refugees and their host communities; promoting adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights projects among young people, women, and the marginalized refugee population in Nairobi County; protecting children-at-risk by facilitating access to safe living arrangements and adequate and appropriate support services; providing transit accommodation facilities for refugees who are pending relocation to assigned camps or awaiting integration into the community; and treating mental health issues and perinatal mental disorders in adolescent refugee mothers.
In a “safe space” and asset building program for adolescent girls and young mothers between the age of 18 to 26 years, clients started a saving group where the savings are loaned out to members. The group also started making petroleum jelly as a collective income-generating activity.
HIAS uses a community-based approach in programming to facilitate the participation of the community in gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response. HIAS works closely with outreach workers, protection and well-being committees, faith leaders, and community-based organizations to help address norms that enable GBV and create an environment where survivors can exercise choice in reporting and seeking support. HIAS works closely with county government structures to ensure that services are accessible to refugees and host communities. Further, HIAS is involved in prevention campaigns to help shift community attitudes and behaviors on GBV.
Psychosocial Services
HIAS collaborates with refugee populations to develop culturally appropriate interventions, activities, and community-based support systems that improve the psychological and social well-being of refugees. HIAS’ caseload encompasses the most vulnerable refugees and other persons with specific needs, most of whom are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence with multiple vulnerabilities. Many of these refugees are also experiencing psychological distress as a result of circumstances faced in the country of asylum as well as the effect of negative experiences from the country of origin. The majority are unable to meet their basic needs. For clients who benefit from psychosocial services, HIAS provides those who have been assessed to be the most vulnerable with limited direct assistance to cover certain expenses. Additionally, support for survivors of SGBV includes mechanisms for communal healing and approaches to reintegration of survivors into the community.
Legal Services
HIAS advocates for favorable policies and legislation for refugees. HIAS works to create partnerships to protect the rights of refugees and also promotes community-based protection by educating refugees and empowering them to speak up for their rights. Additionally, HIAS provides a safe and dignified housing facility for the most at-risk refugees.
HIAS also engages in stakeholder coordination and capacity-building activities to advance refugee protection at the policy level. Partners include refugee community leaders, refugee organizations, civil society groups, government agencies, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), hospitals, schools, universities, lawyers and other professionals. This coordination and capacity building allows HIAS to refer clients to needed services and trainings; build capacity in the sector on refugee rights; develop joint initiatives to advance policy change to increase refugee protection; and, as appropriate, support strategic litigation by other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to advance refugee rights.
As part of its legal protection work, HIAS also partners with local NGOs, resettlement country governments, and UNHCR to ensure the integrity of the refugee resettlement system.
Livelihood Services
The livelihood program seeks to enhance opportunities for self-reliance and skills-building for refugees, promote and support business enterprise development for refugees and advocate for a business-friendly environment for refugees. The program works closely with refugee communities and their leadership in development of program design, evaluation, and follow through. HIAS builds the organizational, technical, and operating capacity of local community-based organizational partners to provide services that benefit both vulnerable refugees and host communities through skills training, financial literacy, and issuing of business startup kits.

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption. 

For any other inquiries please email us at info@hias.org.