Kenya: Accessibility of postal services for undocumented migrants, particularly from Somalia (2016-September 2018) [KEN106172.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

A Netherlands-based journalist, who has visited Kenya (Kenya-Advisor.com n.d.a), explains on his website about Kenya that "most people [in Kenya] have their mail delivered to a box rather than directly to their home" (Kenya-Advisor.com n.d.b). A December 2016 article by the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation indicates that, according to the chief operating officer of the Kenya-based delivery company Sendy, the Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta) "mostly delivers from post office box to post office box" (Daily Nation 10 Dec. 2016). According to the Posta website, "[p]rivate letter box[es]/bags," which are lockable boxes, "are delivery points for mail in Kenya as mai[l] [is] sorted into these boxes/bags at the specific offices [to which] the mail is addressed" (Kenya n.d.a). Other sources similarly indicate that, to receive mail in Kenya, one has to apply for a post office box (Tuko 2018; ZaKenya [2014]).

According to Posta, there are "over 400,000 private letter boxes" in Kenya (Kenya n.d.a). The same source indicates that there are different types of private letter boxes: "[c]orporate boxes" (for businesses); "[i]ndividual boxes" (for individuals); "[s]pecial [c]orporate" boxes (including for homes for children or for the elderly, as well as for philanthropic organizations); boxes for "[l]earning and [r]eligious [o]rganization[s]" (such as for schools, universities, and churches); boxes located in "sub-post offices"; and "[s]tand-[a]lone boxes" (Kenya n.d.a). According to the Daily Nation, Posta's general manager for mail said that there is a "tendency for Kenyans who have no letter box of their own to use another address[,] particularly that of a school, church or workplace" (Daily Nation 10 Dec. 2016). According to the same manager, "'[w]hen a registered item is sent personally to you at an address that is not yours, the person at that address cannot prove your identity and receive it on your behalf'" (Daily Nation 10 Dec. 2016).

The Daily Nation article also mentions that it is possible to notify a recipient of a delivery "via mobile phone" and that this "allows a user who does not have a private letter box to receive mail at a specific address or pick it [up] at the post office" (Daily Nation 10 Dec. 2016). According to e-Njiwa, Posta's online service, individuals or companies can apply for a "Virtual Letter Box" or a "Physical Letter Box," which are described as follows:

Virtual Letter Box

This is a digital [p]ost [o]ffice [b]ox. For this there is no physical key. The owner is notified by SMS and [email] whenever there is mail. They can either collect it from the post office counter or request Posta to deliver the mail to their physical address.

Physical Letter Box

This is the traditional [p]ost [o]ffice [b]ox. For this a key is provided. The owner can access the [b]ox and collect their mail at any time. They can also be notified by SMS and [email] if they onboard their physical boxes onto to this digital platform. (Kenya n.d.b)

Posta's e-Nijwa website further indicates that to register for a virtual letter box or a physical letter box, whether as an individual or as a company, applicants need to fill out a form and provide their national identification (ID) number or, for corporate accounts, the ID of the company's director, and attach a front and back image of the ID (Kenya n.d.c; Kenya n.d.d; Kenya n.d.e; Kenya n.d.f). According to sources, fees are associated with the renting of post office boxes in Kenya (Kenya n.d.a; Business Daily 9 May 2017).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a UNHCR representative indicated that people in refugee camps in Kenya who need to receive mail from abroad use the UNHCR's postal box in Nairobi, "clearly indicating the camp name and address," and that those sending mail from the Dadaab area [where there are UNHCR refugee camps] [1] use the Dadaab post office (UN 12 Sept. 2018). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, another UNHCR representative further explained that it is possible to send mail from the Dadaab post office, although the reception of mail is made "only through a postal box, which is a payable service and requires documents to apply for [it] ... Consequently, the UNHCR acts as a point of postal contact when required" (UN 13 Sept. 2018). The same representative also stated that the UNHCR can receive and deliver correspondence to a refugee or other "person of concern," if the mail is "in regard to their legal or resettlement status" (UN 17 Sept. 2018).

The second UNHCR representative also indicated that postal boxes are "unlikely to be available for refugees" (UN 13 Sept. 2018); due to the scarcity of mailboxes, getting a postal box "would be a challenge even for a Kenyan with a national ID" and for a refugee "it would require a refugee (alien) ID card" (UN 17 Sept. 2018). According to the same source, "[t]o collect mail, a person would show their national ID or, if they are a refugee, whatever ID they have from [the Kenyan Refugee Affairs Secretariat, RAS] or the UNHCR, but really, it is quite rare for refugees to use the postal service as it is unreliable" (UN 17 Sept. 2018). The same UNHCR representative also indicated that individuals may have different types of documentation and that they "vary in terms of issuing authority, period of issuance, validity and location of issuance" (UN 17 Sept. 2018).

The same source stated that IDs are not required when sending letters or documents, "but would be necessary for parcels or larger packages" (UN 13 Sept. 2018). Further information on the requirement to present an ID when sending mail could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the accessibility of postal services for Somali migrants in particular could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] According to another UNHCR representative, "Dadaab town covers Ifo and Dagahaley [refugee camps], [while] Hagadera [refugee camp] falls under Fafi county" (UN 13 Sept. 2018).

References

Business Daily. 9 May 2017. Muthoki Mumo. "Post Boxes, Sending Letters to Cost More." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2018]

Daily Nation. 10 December 2016. Vincent Ng'ethe. "Letters are Fewer, but Demand for Post Office Remains." [Accessed 12 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.a. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta). "Private Letter Bag." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.b. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta), e-Njiwa. "Please Choose Your Preferred Box." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.c. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta), e-Njiwa. "Welcome to Posta Virtual Box Registration (Individual)." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.d. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta), e-Njiwa. "Welcome to Posta Virtual Box Registration (Corporate)." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.e. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta), e-Njiwa. "Welcome to Posta Physical Box Registration (Individual)." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya. N.d.f. Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta), e-Njiwa. "Welcome to Posta Physical Box Registration (Corporate)." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya-Advisor.com. N.d.a. Arjen Koopman. "How I Fell in Love with Kenya." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Kenya-Advisor.com. N.d.b. "Kenya Post - How Does Kenya's Postal Service Work?" [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Tuko. [2018]. Julie Kwach. "Posta Kenya - Post Office Box Application Guide." [Accessed 13 Sept. 2018]

United Nations (UN). 17 September 2018. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

United Nations (UN). 13 September 2018. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

United Nations (UN). 12 September 2018. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.

ZaKenya. [2014]. "How to Apply for Post Office Box from Postal Corporation in Kenya." [Accessed 11 Sept. 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Association of Kenyans in BC; DHL Kenya; FedEx – Pan Africa Express; Kenya – e-Njiwa, High Commission in Ottawa, Postal Corporation of Kenya; Kenya Human Rights Commission; Kenyan Community Association in Calgary; Kenyan Community in Ontario; Kenyan Community in Saskatoon.

Internet sites, including: Aramex; Canada – travel.gc.ca; ecoi.net; Factiva; Lonely Planet; Purolator; Routard.com; RUNEX Courier; Sendy; The Standard; UN – Refworld; United Parcel Service of America; US – Department of State.