According to United Nations, the number of displaced refugees has increased to millions since World War II. People from war torn countries are fleeing their homes to seek refuge to other peaceful nations. In 2014, there were “almost 60 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) around the globe”. This number has increased rapidly in the last two years. Despite the fact, many displaced victims are encountering challenges in finding a home to stay. The high number of refugees and countries involved is a good sign to recognize this as a global crisis.
Although we don’t hear this often, I want to address about a number of places which hundreds of refugees have called home- the Daadab and Kakuma Refugee Camps in Kenya. Dadaab is the largest Refugee Camp located at the boarder of Kenya and Somalia. The camp was originally built as a transition temporary shelter to house 90,000 refugees after the war broke in Somalia. This year, the camp will reach it’s 25th year anniversary since formal establishment. As of today, there are over 350,000 refugees at this camp per United Nations statistics. Some refugees have lived in the camp for more than 5 years.
Through Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), these refugees are assisted to resettle to other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and other selected European countries. The Kakuma Refugee Camp was established in 1992 to help refugees that were fleeing from war and persecution in Sudan. Since then, it has expanded to help refugees from Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. The Kakuma camp has assisted hundreds of thousands refugees. The Kenyan government has played a big role by opening a door to these refugees under humanitarian grounds and its hospitality nature. The majority of refugees affected include vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities and those that have gone through sexual exploitation. Statistics point to World’s largest Haven of Refugees approximately half of these victims being children. If these camps did not exist, the situation for people seeking refuge could have been much worse. These camps have supported many refugees and provided them with access to asylum and international protection. From many stories I have heard, there is a strong urge to address the long-term solution for this humanitarian crisis.
The only way to achieve this goal is through unification from all continents. The main body that has been supporting the refugee population is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) supported by UNICEF, the World Food Program and other organizations. This collaborative effort is the key reason to many refugees having a chance to preserve their basic human rights.
The existence of the Dadaab and Kauma camps in Kenya came to mind after recent articles where refugees are sent back to their home countries as they attempt to seek refuge and freedom in developed countries. There is a backlash from many countries that formerly welcomed refugees with few restrictions. Although the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps have helped many families resettle peacefully, there are few challenges. The camps are located in semi-arid areas. Once a refugee is admitted to the camp, they have limited movement; they cannot leave the camp without permission. Nowadays, things have tightened more due to security reasons whereby when a refugee desires to leave the camp, they have to go through an intense vetting process. A family shares their point of view of the current situation in Dadaab: “On one of the walls of a neighboring family’s hut an out-of-date calendar shows a green meadow, contrasting to the surroundings. Massive deforestation has left Dadaab devoid of almost all vegetation.
An insatiable appetite for charcoal and wood for the construction of houses has stripped the ground bare. The golden brown soil stretches as far as the eye can see.” Life is never the same going through displacement from one’s residence. However, being at least secure from the terrible hostilities so many individuals have experienced, and having a place of refuge (no matter how poor the condition) ensures lives are at the very least, saved.
This Article was Contributed by Ruth Njoroge