Dadaab refugee camp
Dadaab refugee camp

In 2017, multiple conflicts around the world have driven people to take shelter in refugee camps. What are the biggest and most prominent refugee camps, and what are the conditions like? 

Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya


The world's biggest refugee camp isn't located in the Middle East -- it's actually in Africa. The Kakuma camp shelters over 184,000 people who have fled from conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia. The South Sudanese civil war began in 2013 between the government of President Salva Kiir and the opposition led by Vice President Riek Machar. Over 300,000 South Sudanese have been killed in the war. Somalia experienced a 15 year long civil war between 1991 and 2006, and had its first working federal government in 2012, but there are still powerful and dangerous insurgents in part of the country. The citizens of these countries who fled to Kakuma don't have it easy, as disease and malnutrition are rampant in the camp. Environmental conditions such as flooding also make life tough for the refugees.

The Dadaab Complex, Kenya


The Dadaab complex is actually five  neighboring refugee camps in Southeastern Kenya. They are Hagadera, Daghaley, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Kambioos. The complex is administered by UNHCR and receives money from foreign donors. If taken together, the entire complex houses over 245, 126 refugees in total. Over 95 percent of the population of the complex are Somali Muslims and construction began on the complex in 1992. Due to the length of the Somali civil war, this means there are some people who have lived their entire lives in these camps. Refugees mostly live in tents, and some in makeshift houses.

The complex faces several issues  on a variety of fronts. First, there are major health concerns due to overcrowding -- outbreaks of fever, cholera and Hepatitis among other ailments are common. The health concerns also stem from the lack of nourishing food. Environmental issues such as flooding destroy their homes in the camps, while deforestation means that refugees have to travel further from the camps to procure firewood, leaving the refugees open to danger. There are also security issues within the camps, because they are not protected by the Government of Kenya, meaning violence could break out without any law enforcement to stop it.

Zaatari camp, Jordan

Syria's now six year long civil war is the world's most pressing international conflict. Those who have fled the crisis might end up in Zaatari, a refugee camp in Jordan near the Syrian border. The camp hosts over 80,000 refugees, making it Jordan's fourth "city." The UN refugee agency UNHCR administers the camp. The administration has to deal with the enormous task of supplying electricity, food and water while also dealing with issues such as drug trade and prostitution. The camps also has to deal with sandstorms as well as providing an education for the young people in the camp.

The camp has its own hospitals, schools and thousands of shops owned by the refugees themselves. The infamous "Champs Elysees" street, named after the bustling shoping street in Paris,  is filled with vendors selling toys, snacks, cell phones and other items.

Other camps

Some of the other prominent refugee camps include Yida in South Sudan, Katumba in Tanzania and the Azraq camp in Jordan. The Palestinian refugee crisis, which is the longest refugee crisis since 1948, has led to Palestinians living in camps such as Yarmouk in Syria, Shatila in Lebanon and Jabalia in Gaza.

Author: Wesley Dockery

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