Information on the status given to Ethiopian nationals in self-exile in Kenya since 1991 [KEN22637.E]

The following information was obtained in a telephone interview with an immigration official at the High Commission for Kenya in Ottawa on 15 January 1996.

According to the official, eligible Ethiopians would have received convention refugee status, which would have permitted them to live anywhere in the country and to obtain employment. Kenyan citizenship would not have been automatically offered to them, although they could apply in the future if they met the terms of the Kenyan Citizenship Act.

The official stated that immigration authorities would have issued an "Alien's Card" if the Ethiopians had been granted convention refugee status. Processing of refugees in Kenya is jointly handled by the Kenyan authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For travel documents, refugees must obtain a "Convention Travel Document" from the UNHCR, which is recognized by Kenyan authorities.

The official added that the status accorded any person entering the country is determined by the person's circumstances and the terms of the Immigration Act, which has not changed since 1991.

According to the Schedule of the Classes of Entry Permits of the Immigration Act, a convention refugee would receive a Class M entry permit, which allows entry to the country (1968). Article 6.3 of the Immigration Act allows for a Class M permit holder to obtain employment, conduct business or practice a profession, subject to the laws of Kenya (ibid.). In addition, a Class M permit holder may be accompanied by a wife or child over the age of thirteen (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


High Commission for the Republic of Kenya, Ottawa. 15 January 1996. Telephone interview with immigration official.

Republic of Kenya. 1968. The Immigration Act. Rev. ed. Nairobi: Government Printer. (UNHCR/REFLEG database)