Refugee camp

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For the 1996 reggae album, see Refugee Camp - Bootleg Versions.
Refugee camp (located in present-day eastern Congo-Kinshasa) for Rwandans following the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
A camp in Guinea for refugees from Sierra Leone.
Nahr el-Bared, Palestinian refugee camp in North Lebanon in 2005.
Mitzpe Ramon, development camp for Jewish refugees, southern Israel, 1957

A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees. Camps with over a hundred thousand people are common, but as of 2012 the average-sized camp housed around 11,400.[1] Usually they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, or international organizations, (such as the Red Cross) or NGOs. But there are also unofficial refugee camps, like the Calais jungle, where refugees are largely left without support of governments or international organisations.[2]

Refugee camps generally develop in an impromptu fashion with the aim of meeting basic human needs for only a short time. Due to crowding and lack of infrastructure, some refugee camps can become unhygienic, leading to a high incidence of infectious diseases, including epidemics. If the return of refugees is prevented (often by civil war), a humanitarian crisis can result or continue. "Refugee camp" typically describes a settlement of people who have escaped war in their home country and have fled to a country of first asylum, but some camps also house environmental migrants and economic refugees.

Some refugee camps exist for decades and people can stay in refugee camps for decades, both of which have major implications for human rights.[3] Some camps grow into permanent settlements and even merge with nearby older communities, such as Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon and Deir al-Balah, Palestine.

Refugee camps may sometimes serve as headquarters for the recruitment, support and training of guerilla organizations engaged in fighting in the refugees' area of origin; such organizations often use humanitarian aid to supply their troops.[4] Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire[5] and Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand[6] supported armed groups until their destruction by local military forces.

Facilities[edit]

Facilities of a refugee camp can include the following:[7]

Schools and markets may be prohibited by the host country government in order to discourage refugees from settling permanently in camps.

Many refugee camps also have:

  • Places for refugees to collect water, usually from tanks where water is off-loaded from trucks, then filtered and/or treated with disinfectant chemicals such as chlorine
  • Bathing areas, often separated by gender
  • Cemeteries or crematoria
  • Locations for solid waste disposal.
  • Churches or other religious centers[8]

In order to understand and monitor an emergency over a period of time, the development and organisation of the camps can be tracked by satellite[9] and analyzed via GIS.[10][11]

Duration[edit]

People may stay in these camps, receiving emergency food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their home countries. If it becomes safer they can make use of voluntary repatriation programmes.[12] In some cases, often after several years, the host country government may prefer to see that refugees are resettled in "third countries" which accept refugees seeking asylum. In other cases, the host country government may choose to forcibly repatriate refugees to their country of origin, in violation of international law. In rare cases, they may be naturalised by the country they fled to.[13]

Although camps are intended to be temporary, some exist for decades and people can stay there for decades, both of which have major implications for human rights.[3] Some Palestinian refugee camps exist since 1948, camps for Eritreans in Sudan (such as the Shagarab camp) exist since 1968,[14] the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria exist since 1975, camps for Burmese in Thailand (such as the Mae La refugee camp) exist since 1986, Buduburam in Ghana since 1990, or Dadaab and Kakuma in Kenya since 1991 and 1992, respectively. In fact “protracted refugee situations now account for the vast majority of the world’s refugee population”.[15] Some camps grow into permanent settlements and even merge with nearby older communities, such as Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon and Deir al-Balah, Palestine.

Work and employment[edit]

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a policy of helping refugees work and be productive, using their existing skills to meet their own needs and needs of the host country, to:

"Ensure the right of refugees to access work and other livelihood opportunities as they are available for nationals... Match programme interventions with corresponding levels of livelihood capacity (existing livelihood assets such as skills and past work experience) and needs identified in the refugee population, and the demands of the market... Assist refugees in becoming self-reliant. Cash / food / rental assistance delivered through humanitarian agencies should be short-term and conditional and gradually lead to self-reliance activities as part of longer-term development... Convene internal and external stakeholders around the results of livelihood assessments to jointly identify livelihood support opportunities."[16]

If enough aid is provided to refugees, it can help host countries too, through stimulus effects.[17] However refugee support does not usually provide cash to create effective demand,[18] and refugees without cash are restricted by host countries lest they depress wages and opportunities for locals. Host countries also sometimes wish to avoid cultural and political changes that integrating refugees would cause.

Refugee tents at Arbat Transit Camp for Syrian Refugees in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, March 2014.

Legal system[edit]

Many refugees express mistrust of community leaders or representatives, with some of them alleging that they are bribed by employees of humanitarian organizations in the camps so that they do not genuinely represent fellow refugees. Refugee representatives can act as a buffer for camp authorities as they stop the latter from being swamped by refugee concerns. Even though the existence of refugee representatives gives the impression that camps are democratic, these representatives are in fact part of a disciplinary machinery.[19]

Refugee resettlement[edit]

Globally, about 17 countries (Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States) regularly accept "quota refugees" from refugee camps.[20] The UNHCR works in partnership with these countries and resettlement programmes, such as the Gateway Protection Programme,[21] that support refugees after arrival in the new countries. In recent years, most quota refugees have come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and the former Yugoslavia which have been disrupted by wars and revolutions.

In the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jewish refugees were initially resettled in refugee camps known variously as Immigrant camps, Ma'abarot, and "development towns" prior to absorption into mainstream Israeli society. Conversely, many Palestinian refugees remain settled in Palestinian refugee camps, while others have been absorbed into Jordanian society or the Palestinian territories. Since 1948, the sovereign State of Israel has guaranteed asylum and citizenship to Jewish refugees, while the self-declared State of Palestine remains unable to absorb the Palestinian refugees, due to lack of de facto sovereignty over its claimed territories.[citation needed]

Notable refugee camps[edit]

Darfur refugee camp in Chad

Africa[edit]

  • There are 12 camps, such as Breidjing Camp, in the east of Chad. They are hosting approximately 250,000 Sudanese refugees from the Darfur region in Sudan and were opened in 2002. The other camps are Oure Cassoni, Mile, Treguine, Iridimi, Touloum, Kounoungou, Goz Amer, Farchana, Am Nabak, Gaga and Djabal.[22]
  • There are a number of camps, such as Nakivale, Kayaka II, Kyangwali and Rwamanja in Uganda. They host 170,000 refugees from South Sudan.[23]
  • The are four camps in Maban County in South Sudan hosting Sudanese refugees. Yusuf Batil camp is home to 37,000 refugees, Doro camp to 44,000, Jamam camp hosts 20,000 refugees and Gendrassa camp 10,000.[24]
  • Camps in the south of Chad, such as Dosseye, Kobitey, Mbitoye, Danamadja, Sido, Doyaba and Djako are hosting approximately 113,000 refugees from Central African Republic.[25]
  • Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana, home to more than 12,000 Liberians[26] (opened 1990)
  • Dadaab refugee camps (Ifo, Ifo II, Dagahaley, Hagadera, and Kambioos) in North Eastern Kenya, established in 1991 and now hosting more than 330,000 Somali refugees.[27] It is by far the world's largest refugee camp[28] and even if taken separately Hagadera, Dagahaley, Ifo II and Ifo were (in this order) the world's four largest camps in 2013.[29]
  • Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, South Western Algeria, were opened circa 1976 and are called Laayoune, Smara, Awserd, February 27, Rabouni and Dakhla.
  • Ras Ajdir camp, close to the Tunisian border in Libya, was opened in 2011 and is housing between 20,000 and 30,000 Libyan refugees.[30]
  • Dzaleka camp in the Dowa District of Malawi is home to 17,000 refugees from Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda.[31]
  • Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania opened in 1997 and initially hosted 60.000 refugees from the DRC. Due to the recent conflicts in Burundi it also hosts 90.000 refugees from Burundi. In 2014 it was the 9th largest refugee camp.[32] However, since the conflict in Burundi it is considered one of the world's biggest and most overcrowded camps.[33]
  • Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya was opened in 1991. It hosts 18 different nationalities, largest groups are Ethiopians, Sudanese and Somali refugees.In 2014 it was the third largest refugee camp worldwide.[28][32]
  • Ruyigi refugee camp in Burundi hosts refugees from DRC.
  • There are a number of camps close to Dolo Ado in southern Ethiopia, hosting refugees from Somalia.[34] In 2014 the Dolo Ado camps (Melkadida, Bokolmanyo, Buramino, Kobe Camp, Fugnido, Hilaweyn and Adiharush) were considered to be the second largest.[28][32]
  • Jomvu, Hatimy and Swaleh Nguru camps near Mombasa, Kenya, were closed in 1997. Refugees, mainly Somalis, were either forced to relocate to Kakuma or were repatriated into unsafe Somalia and given $30 for leaving voluntarily.[35]
  • Jalalaqsi, Qoryoley and Sigalow in Somalia.[36]
  • Hart Sheik in Ethiopia hosted more than 250,000 mostly Somalians refugees between 1988 and 2004.
  • Itang camp in Ethiopia hosted 182,000 refugees from South Sudan and was the world's largest refugee camp for some time during the 1990s.[37]
  • Benaco and Ngara in Tanzania.
  • Kala, Meheba and Mwange camps in the northwest of Zambia host refugees from Angola and DRC.[38]
  • There are 12 camps, such as Shagarab and Wad Sharifey, in eastern Sudan. They host around 66,000 mostly Eritrean refugees, the first of whom arrived in 1968.[14]
  • Ali Addeh (or Ali Adde) and Hol-Hol camps in Djibouti host 23,000 refugees, who are mainly from Somalia, but also Ethiopians and Eritreans.[39]
  • Osire camp in central Namibia was established in 1992 to accommodate refugees from Angola, Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Somalia. It had 20,000 inhabitants in 1998 and only 3,000 in 2014.
  • Lainé and Kouankan (I & II) camps in Guinea hosted nearly 29,300 refugees mostly from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d'Ivoire. The number reduced to 15,000 in 2009.[40]
  • Cameroon hosted more than 240,000 UNHCR registered refugees in 2014, mainly from the Central African Republic: Minawao refugee camp in the north and Gado Badzere, Borgop, Ngam, Timangolo, Mbile and Lolo refugee camps in the east of Cameroon.[41]
  • There are a number of camps in Rwanda that host 85,000 refugees from the DRC: Gihembe, Kigeme, Kiziba, Mugombwa and Nyabiheke camps.[42]
  • Mentao camp in Burkina Faso hosts 13,000 Malian refugees.[43]
  • PTP camp near Zwedru, Bahn camp and Little Wlebo camp in eastern Liberia is home to 12,000 refugees from Ivory Coast.[44]
  • M’Bera camp in southeastern Mauritania hosts 50,000 Malian refugees.[45]
  • Choucha camp in Tunisia hosted nearly 20,000 refugees from 13 different countries who fled from Libya in 2011. Half of them are sub-Saharan African and Arab refugees and the other half are Bangladeshis who had been working in Libya. 3,000 refugees remained the camp in 2012, 1,300 in 2013 and its closure is planned.[46]

Asia[edit]

Middle East[edit]

Europe[edit]

Nong Samet Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, May 1984
  • Timisoara Emergency Transit Centre for refugees in Romania.[58] It can accommodate up to 200 people and provides a temporary safe haven – for up to six months – for individuals or groups who need to be evacuated immediately from life-threatening situations before being resettled.[59]
  • Sangatte camp[60] and the Calais jungle in northern France.[61]
  • The Oksbøl Refugee Camp was the largest camp for German Refugees in Denmark after World War II.
  • Traiskirchen camp in eastern Austria hosts refugees that come to Europe as part of the European migrant crisis.
  • Friedland refugee camp in Germany hosted refugees who fled from the former eastern territories of Germany at the end of World War II, between 1944 and 1950. Between 1950 and 1987 it was a transit centre for East German (GDR) citizens who wanted to flee to Germany (FRG).
  • Kjesäter in Sweden was a refugee camp and transit centre for Norwegian refugees fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II.
  • Kløvermarken in Denmark was a refugee camp that hosted 19,000 German refugees between 1945 and 1949.
  • Vrela Ribnička refugee camp in Montenegro was built in 1994 and houses refugees of Bosnian origin who were displaced during the Yugoslav Wars.

Refugee camps by country and population size[edit]

Refugee camps and populations size between 2006 and 2014
Country Camp 2014 [62] 2013 [63] 2012 [64] 2011 [65] 2010 [66] 2009 [67] 2008 [68] 2007 [69] 2006 [70]
Chad Am Nabak 25,553 24,513 23,611 20,395 18,087 17,402 16,696 16,701 16,504
Chad Amboko 11,819 10,719 11,297 11,627 11,111 11,671 12,057 12,002 12,062
Kenya Dagahaley 88,486 104,565 121,127 122,214 93,470 93,179 65,581 39,626 39,526
Chad Djabal 20,809 19,635 18,890 18,083 17,200 15,693 17,153 15,602 15,162
Yemen Al Kharaz 16,500 16,816 19,047 16,904 14,100 16,466 11,394 9,491 9,298
Chad Bredjing 41,146 39,797 37,494 35,938 34,465 32,559 32,669 30,077 28,932
Malawi Dzaleka 5,874 16,935 16,664 16,853 12,819 10,275 9,425 8,690 4,950
Chad Farchana 27,548 26,292 24,419 23,323 21,983 20,915 21,183 19,815 18,947
Kenya Hagadera 106,968 114,729 139,483 137,528 101,506 83,518 90,403 70,412 59,185
Sudan Girba 6,306 6,295 6,252 5,570 5,592 5,645 5,120 9,081 8,996
Chad Gondje 12,138 11,349 11,717 10,006 9,586 11,184 12,700 12,664 12,624
Kenya Ifo 83,750 99,761 98,294 118,972 97,610 79,424 79,469 61,832 54,157
Chad Iridimi 22,908 21,976 21,083 21,329 18,859 18,154 19,531 18,269 17,380
Kenya Kakuma 153,959 128,540 107,205 85,862 69,822 64,791 53,068 62,497 90,457
Sudan Kilo 26 8,391 8,303 8,310 7,634 7,608 7,610 7,133 12,690 11,423
Chad Kounoungou 21,960 20,876 19,143 18,251 16,927 16,237 18,514 13,500 13,315
Bangladesh Kutapalong 13,176 12,626 12,404 11,706 11,469 11,251 11,047 10,708 10,144
Thailand Mae La 46,978 25,156 26,690 27,629 29,188 30,073 32,862 38,130 46,148
Thailand Mae La Oon 12,245 8,675 9,611 10,204 11,991 13,811 13,478 13,450 14,366
Thailand Mae Ra Ma Luang 13,825 8,421 9,414 10,269 11,749 13,571 11,304 11,578 12,840
Chad Mile 21,723 20,818 19,823 18,853 17,382 14,221 17,476 16,202 15,557
Bangladesh Nayapara 19,179 18,288 18,066 17,729 17,547 17,091 17,076 16,679 16,010
Thailand Nu Po 13,372 7,927 15,715 15,982 9,262 9,800 11,113 13,377 13,131
Tanzania Nyarugusu 57,267 68,888 68,132 63,551 62,726 62,184 49,628 50,841 52,713
Chad Oure Cassoni 36,466 35,415 33,267 36,168 32,206 31,189 28,430 28,035 26,786
Ethiopia Shimelba 6,106 5,885 6,033 8,295 9,187 10,135 10,648 16,057 13,043
India Tamil Nadu 65,057 65,674 67,165 68,152 69,998 72,883 73,286 72,934 69,609
Chad Touloum 29,683 28,501 27,940 27,588 24,500 26,532 24,935 23,131 22,358
Chad Treguine 21,801 20,990 19,957 19,099 17,820 17,000 17,260 15,718 14,921
Sudan Um Gargur 10,269 10,172 8,947 8,550 8,641 8,715 8,180 10,104 9,845
Thailand Um Pium 16,109 9,816 10,581 11,017 11,742 12,494 14,051 19,397 19,464
Sudan Wad Sherife 15,357 15,318 15,472 15,481 15,819 15,626 13,636 36,429 33,371
Ethiopia Fugnido 53,218 42,044 34,247 22,692 21,770 20,202 - 18,726 27,175
Chad Gaga 24,591 23,236 22,266 21,474 19,888 19,043 20,677 17,708 12,402
Pakistan Gamkol 30,241 31,326 31,701 32,830 35,169 33,033 33,499 37,462 -
Pakistan Gandaf 12,068 12,508 12,632 13,346 12,731 12,497 12,659 13,609 -
South Sudan Gendressa 17,975 17,289 14,758 - - - - - -
Rwanda Gihembe 14,735 - 14,006 19,827 19,853 19,407 19,027 18,081 17,732
Liberia Bahn 5,257 8,412 8,851 5,021 - - - - -
Ethiopia Bambasi 14,279 13,354 12,199 - - - - - -
Pakistan Barakai 24,786 25,909 26,739 28,093 32,077 28,597 28,851 30,266 -

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]