Kenyans Who Fled to Canada Now Living on Streets

Every month, plenty of Kenyans embark on journeys overseas, driven by the aspiration to secure improved opportunities and a better life for their families. 

Often, this sacrifice reaps rewards, with many Kenyans successfully establishing themselves in foreign lands and accessing promising prospects.

Nevertheless, reality doesn’t always align with these hopes. In certain cases, the anticipated advantages fail to materialise, revealing that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Recent reports shed light on a concerning situation: a considerable portion of Kenyan individuals who departed the country, seeking refuge in Canada, now find themselves among hundreds of immigrants compelled to reside on the streets of various Canadian cities.

Photo collage of a town in Canada and travellers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).


Expedia/ KAA

According to a report published by the Toronto Star, tens of Kenyans are currently stranded in Canada. A notable portion of these immigrants have conveyed that their attempts to return have been hindered by delays in passport processing, contributing to their prolonged stay.

The report highlights that a significant portion of the stranded Kenyans departed the country for various reasons, driven by factors such as the pursuit of better opportunities due to the high cost of living in Kenya.

Some sought refuge in the North American nation due to threats on their lives and the societal stigma they faced while in Kenya. Proceeding to Canada, the report indicated that, the Kenyans hoped that a change in environment would enable them to start afresh.

Unfortunately, their aspirations were met with disappointment upon reaching Canada, which itself was grappling with a housing scarcity predicament, impacting not only these newcomers but also its own citizens.

According to Reverend Alexa Gilmour of the Protestant United Church of Canada based in Ontario who spoke to the publication,  she is one of the few people extending assistance to those left to endure the harsh weather conditions while living on the streets.

The well-wishers provide essential support in the form of food, clothing, and other fundamental necessities to those in need.

The New Lines Magazine quoted Gilmour saying that the majority of immigrants she’s encountered are from Kenya, and tend to mention economic challenges and the high cost of living as their primary reason to move.

So far Canada has processed over 60,000 applications from asylum seekers since January 2023.

“We’ve seen an increasing amount of asylum seekers arriving in Canada, and it’s not a surprise when we’re seeing an increasing amount of people worldwide and globally asking for asylum and for protection,” explained Azadeh Tamjeedi, a senior legal officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Canada in Ottawa.

The UN official explained that the influx of immigrants into Canada was being prompted by rising cases of conflict in different countries across the world.

Per the official, the high number of immigrants strains the government’s capacity to provide the basic needs to the applicants who are therefore left stranded.

In July, an immigrant from Kenya complained of the rude shock that hit him when he arrived in Canada.

He could not access shelter for two days and was forced to sleep on the street for two days.

“What you expect when you come from Africa is that you will get a good house and you’ll get work,” he said.

A queue at the Department of Immigration Services Passport control office at Nyayo House in Nairobi for application and renewal of Passports in this photo taken on May 21, 2018


Immigration Department

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