The 7 largest refugee camps in the world

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There are more displaced persons today than at any other point in the history of the world. Most of these people have been displaced from their homes by persecution, conflict, environmental disasters, and economic strain. Over half of all recorded refugees are children who have been deprived of their material possessions, statehood, and sometimes even loved ones. They are seeking solace and some resemblance of comfort in purposefully constructed refugee camps, as well as unplanned settlements. Below is a listing of the top 7 refugee camps around the world.

1.      Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya (184,550)

Established in 1992, Kakuma camp is located in Northwestern Kenya. It’s currently the world’s largest refugee camp, hosting over 184,000 people. Kakuma is co-managed by Kenya’s Department of Refugee Affairs, and the UNHCR. The majority of refugees in this camp are South Sudanese (100,000), followed by Somalis (55,000). There are also refugees from 20 other nations stationed here. Most displaced people at Kakuma fled their homes as a result of civil war. The situation at Kakuma is grave. The little infrastructure there is there has been widely overtaxed. There are minimal opportunities for employment, and cases of disease and malnutrition are very common.

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Kakuma Refugee Camp

2.      Hagadera Refugee Camp, Kenya (105,998)

Hagadera is part of the Dadaab complex of refugee camps stationed in south-eastern Kenya. It’s currently the second largest worldwide, hosting over 100,000 refugees. Over 95 percent of refugees stationed at this camp are Somalis. Hagadera is massively congested, and refugees usually live in informal settlements on its outskirts.

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Hagadera, Dadaab (Kenya)

3.      Dagahaley, Kenya (87,223)

Like Hagadera, Dagahaley camp is also a part of the Dadaab complex. It’s population nearly hits the 90,000 mark. Dagahaley was rapidly built in the 1990s to accommodate refugees fleeing from the Somali Civil War. It’s highly crowded, and the Kenyan government has threatened to close it altogether, which makes its fate uncertain.

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Dagahaley, Dadaab (Kenya)

4.      Ifo, Kenya (84,089)

Of the 5 refugee camps that make up the Dadaab complex, Ifo is the oldest. It hosts more than 80,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia. The camp is insanely overcrowded, not to forget that it’s also located in a flood-prone area.

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Ifo, Dadaab (Kenya)

5.      Zaatari, Jordan (77,781)

Located in northern Jordan, Zaatari is home to over 77,000 refugees, primarily from Syria. It was established by the UNHCR in conjunction with the Jordanian government in 2012, as a response to Syria’s burgeoning humanitarian crisis. Occupants of this camp are served by two hospitals, 9 schools, and at least 3,000 refugee-owned shops. The camp also has a circus academy, a soccer league, and various recreational amenities.

Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan

6.      Yida, South Sudan (70,331)

In 2011, South Sudan earned its independence from Sudan, following two decades of civil war. Both nations remain unstable, and huge numbers of Sudanese citizens have sought refuge across the border at the Yida refugee camp. Unlike most other camps highlighted in this list, Yida is an unplanned settlement that sprouted from the 2nd Sudanese civil war.

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Yida Refugee Camp

7.      Katumba, Tanzania (66,416)

The oldest refugee settlement highlighted in this list, Katumba goes back to 1972. It was established when scores of Burundian citizens moved across the border to Tanzania. Apparently, they were escaping from mass exterminations carried out by the then Burundi government on Hutu civilians. Like Yida, this is also an unplanned settlement.

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Katumba Refugee Camp

Most of these refugee camps were created to be temporary facilities. However, they have developed into full-fledged cities, complete with mini-economies, governance systems, and civic institutions.

There are more displaced people now than after World War II

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The United Nation’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, reports that the number of displaced people worldwide is at its highest ever, even surpassing post-WWII records. This is alarming compared with the devastation of the WWII when the world was trying to come to terms with one of the most destabilizing events in its history. By the end of 2015, the total number of displaced people reached 65.3 million. That translates to about one displaced person out of every 113 people on the planet. This is an increase of over 5.8 compared to the year before.

According to the UNHCR, nearly 1% of the globe’s population is listed as, internally displaced, asylum seeker, or refugee. One of the major causes of displacement is long-term conflicts. A keen example is the conflict in Afghanistan, which has made it the world’s number 1 refugee-producing country. Ever since the nation was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1978, things have never been the same again. The Soviet invasion was followed by a Taliban insurgency, and then a post 9-11 invasion by a western-led coalition. Syria is another situation where the civil war has contributed to nearly 5 million refugees in nearby Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. South Sudan is also another example of a country that’s facing conflict, not to forget the Horn of Africa war haven of Somalia. These conflicts have directly contributed to tens of millions of refugees around the world.

More than half of all refugees come from Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia

Roughly 54 percent of all refugees in the world come from 3 nations: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Currently, Syria has the largest number of externally displaced people, standing at 4.9 million, followed by Afghanistan at 2.7 million and Somalia at 1.1 million.

By the end of 2015, only a little more than 200,000 refugees returned to their countries of origin. 100,000 more were resettled in other countries. The United States accommodated the largest chunk, at 66,500. These numbers reflect displaced people from the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Nearly 100,000 unaccompanied children

According to the UNHCR, about 98,400 of al asylum applications were made by unaccompanied or separated children, mostly from Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Syria. This is a worrying situation that highlights the need for increased focus on the refugee crisis around the world.

Top refugee host nations

Turkey is currently the nation hosting the largest number of externally displaced refugees, standing at 2.5 million. The country is closely followed by Pakistan at 1.6 million, then Lebanon at 1.1 million, Iran with 979,000, and Ethiopia. This is the second consecutive year that Turkey has ranked the number one refugee host in the world.

3 Countries in the world that produce the largest number of refugees

World Refugee Hotspots

Each day, more than 30,000 human beings are forced to leave their original countries are refugees. That’s according to the United Nations. But where are the majority of these people coming from? What are they running from, and where do they finally end up?

Origin of refugees

More than half of all refugees in the world come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

  • Afghan refugee situation – the afghan conflict has lasted since 1978 when the Soviet Union invaded the country. Refugees from this nation have fled to the surrounding states. And to add salt to the injury, the situation didn’t quite improve after the Soviets left. There’s been a consequent civil war, the Taliban conquest, and most recently the western-led invasion of the country following September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda. This means that over the last few decades, there’s been constant war in Afghanistan, and millions of people have fled the violence. There are about six million refugees (from Afghanistan) in neighboring Pakistan. This makes Afghanistan the number one refugee-producing nation on earth, a title that it’s held for about 32 years. More than 95% of Afghan refugees are situated win either Pakistan or Iran. Smaller groups have relocated to NATO countries and India.
  • Syrian refugee crisis – in recent times, Syria’s civil war has created one of the most worrying refugee situations ever. Over 11 million have either died or fled their homes. This includes nearly 5 million people who have sought refuge outside the country. Families already inside Syria are struggling to survive, as the war continues. Hundreds of thousands are risking their lives trying to make their way to Europe, while many more others are seeking shelter in the neighboring countries. About 2.7 million Syrian refugees are currently in Turkey, 1 million in Lebanon (1 out of every 4 people in this country is a Syrian refugee), 650,000 in Jordan, and 220,000 in Iraq.
  • Somalia refugee crisis – with no functioning government, clan wars that have lasted for decades, and a deadly terrorist group commanding swathes of the country, Somalia has been often described as a failed state. The 1991 collapse of the then Somali government and the resulting civil war resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees. About 500,000 Somali refugees fled to Kenya, while nearly 250,000 went to Ethiopia. Most of those who went to Kenya settled in the expansive Dadaab refugee camp, which was designed to handle just 160,000 refugees but is currently home to half a million. There are about 100,000 more Somali refugees in Kakuma camp, as well as about 30,000 urban refugees in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. As the international community supports a weak government that was recently installed in Somalia, both Kenya and Ethiopia are considering resettlement as a viable, durable solution.

Other countries that have produced a significant number of refugees include Congo DR, Myanmar, Eritrea, Vietnam, South Sudan, Sudan, Colombia, and Mali.

Based on the size of the population, Lebanon hosts the highest number of refugees (more than a quarter of people living in the country). Based on Economic capacity, Pakistan is the number one refugee host country, followed by Ethiopia and then Kenya.

Inside Europe’s refugee quagmire

Europe Refugee Crisis

Unless you have been living under a rock for a very long time, then you know that Europe is undergoing a refugee crisis of historic proportions. Since the beginning of 2015, thousands of migrants have been trying to flock to the European Union mostly through the Mediterranean Sea, or via Southeastern Europe. The majority of these asylum seekers and refugees originate from Africa, South and West Asia. The UNHCR says that the top 3 nationalities for refugees who streamed in through the Mediterranean Sea are Syrians, Afghans, and Iraqis.

Tragedy at Sea

In 2013, a boat carrying hundreds of asylum seekers from Libya headed to Italy sank, killing 368 people. As a result, Italy launched a massive search and rescue operation codenamed Mare Nostrum. But the situation wasn’t even close to getting better. Within the first four months of 2015, the numbers of migrants perishing at sea was at record high. For instance, in the first 3 months of 2015, at least 479 refugees drowned. The situation became even direr in April the same year when 1308 refugees either drowned or disappeared, sparking a worldwide outcry. European leaders then held emergency meetings in the same month and decided to triple funding for their Mediterranean rescue operations.

Below is the nature of Europe’s refugee problem, based on a report published recently by the EU.

  • The majority of people flocking into Europe through the Mediterranean Sea are fleeing from conflict, war, and persecution to their countries of origin. There are also increasing numbers of displaced individuals fleeing from deteriorating conditions in various refugee-hosting nations. European Union states have a responsibility to protect these refugees, as well as rescue those who face danger at sea.
  • There have been an increasing number of deaths at sea, as refugees try to cross the Mediterranean Sea by all means possible. Currently, European search and rescue operations have intensified, potentially saving the lives of hundreds of migrants stuck at sea.
  • More migrants and refugees are taking the Eastern Mediterranean route, from Turkey to Greece. Over 85 percent of refugee arrivals in Greece are people fleeing from war in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. Once in Greece, these migrants travel across the Balkans to northern and western Europe. Based on available statistics, Italy is the number one destination for refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Due to increased arrivals, reception capacity and other conditions in European host countries have deteriorated. While Italy has improved reception capacity, there are clear systemic gaps in Greece. This negatively impacts refugees, especially those with special needs. It also elevates their risks of being exploited. The European Union has reiterated that this is an emergency situation that requires steadfast intervention and support.
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Europe’s Refugee Problem

EU in the context of the Globe

Based on the UNHCR, there were over 59.6 million refugees worldwide by the end of 2014. The number increased to over 64 million at the end of 2015, and the situation doesn’t even look like it’s getting better. Compared to the rest of the world, European Union countries have hosted a significantly small number of refugees. From a global standpoint, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, Kenya and Jordan still host the highest numbers of refugees. In Lebanon, the refugee burden is so intense that 1 out of every 4 people is an asylum seeker.

Why are the U.S and Australia pursuing a deal on refugee swap?

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Australia and President Obama’s administration are nearing a deal on extra-territorial refugee centers. There’s been increasing speculation about a deal being forged since September this year when the Aussie Prime Minister said that his country would resettle migrants from the U.S in exchange for the U.S accommodating refugees stationed on the Pacific Islands in Australia.

Australia will reportedly resettle U.S migrants stationed at detention facilities in Costa Rica.

Today, Australia is in the custody of over 1800 refugees who are seeking asylum in its territory. These are individuals who have fled conflict in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ira, Iraq and Sri Lanka. There has been a lot of controversy about how the refugees stationed on these islands have been treated by authorities. To start with, Australia has not granted them asylum, as a result of its stiff border policy that prevents asylum seekers from settling in the country. Australian leaders have engaged in negotiations with various nations in an attempt to move the refugees.

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The deal with the United States will make it possible for Australia to close its refugee camps, which have been there for over two decades. In turn, the United States will be able to shut its camps in Costa Rica that are packed with refugees running from Central American violence (all of them will now be settled in Australia). There has been no comment from the Obama administration regarding how these negotiations are going, as well as the proposed policies to address refugees. The situation gets even trickier considered that the Trump administration will be in place January next year. Mr. Trump, on the campaign trail, vowed to implement strict vetting procedures for refugees before they are allowed into the United States. This is probably why both Australia and the United States are rushing this deal.

Australia says that the goal is to have its asylum seekers settled in a safe country. As long as that is possible, the deal can go right ahead. That’s according to Kon Karapanagiotidis, an executive at the Australian resource center for asylum seekers. Mr. Kon emphasizes that the important thing is to have the deal sealed quickly and an urgent manner given the physical and mental health of most of the refugees.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the two countries will manage to arrive at a conclusion and seal the deal before Mr. Obama says goodbye to the Whitehouse in the next two months.

What It’s Like to Be a Refugee in Syria

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Can you imagine how the world can be so unforgiving and brutal? Civil wars and revolutions break out all the time. There are 21.3 million refugees around the world, more than half of them under the age of 18. You can help. How? By being proactive, not idly receiving unfortunate news from all over the world.

Examine Hassan, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon which is now home to more Syrians than any other nation. He is living in a tent with his wife three sons and two daughters. At the first crack of dawn, he wakes up on his baby boy’s hungry screams and so begins thus journey of misery.

Life here is primitive; people barely survive on limited resources. Camping in remote places in the countryside and no future, but they are optimistic. Children play around the tents, and women cook and boil water above small fires.

Hassan’s main concern is how he will feed his family. He cannot ask for help from neighboring tents because their situation is the same. They are all in the same boat. They are sticking together like one big family.

Life is expensive; since there are no official camps in Lebanon. Hassan must pay for renting the land where he camps, electricity, water, and other services. There are not enough jobs in these circumstances. Hassan is merely surviving and lacks any certainty in a bright future.

Luckily, some charity organizations are trying to teach Hassan skills he can use to earn his money. Hassan’s wife also goes to a nearby farm to pick and clean vegetables as a day job. Everyone is busy at the camp, building and struggling to improve their quality of life even for a little bit.

Do you know what is sadder? Because Hassan has no job or money, he and everyone is a camp, get their food in debt, and sometimes get paid in food for their work instead of money. Moreover, he has to pay for healthcare for his son who was injured in an attack when they were fleeing their country. Hassan could hardly provide for his family.

He and his family have to labor all day long just to find something to eat at the end of the day. He is trying to reach his family back home to get any support he can, but there’s no hope. Communications are hard to come by in his area and there’s little he can do.

Hassan soothes his family in any way possible, and he is trying to remain optimistic despite what he is going through. Hassan is not alone; there’re millions of Syrians just like him. They lost their home and livelihood. Wandering around the world, searching for a new home with no avail. Guess what?

Syrians are not alone, there are millions of refugees everywhere. From countries like Somalia and Afghanistan. They are all going through this nightmare. In fact, the world is seeing more refugees than any time in recorded history. Will this never end?