May 2, 2017 by

African Hope and Resilience

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are more refugees, or internally displaced people today, than at any time since World War II, fleeing conflict, persecution or famine. More than half of these are children. Deprived of their motherland, possessions and often their families, refugees begin new lives in new countries, in planned or unplanned camps. Though these camps bear witness to the scale of suffering and forced displacement around the world, especially in Africa, they are also stepping stones to safety and security for many of the inhabitants.


The largest refugee camps in Africa are in Kenya: the Dadaab complex of refugee camps, where over 250,000 people live, is the largest in the world. The camp was established in 1991, by Somalians fleeing civil war, and many families have now been there for several generations. Hagadera, Dagahaley and Ifo are part of this complex, and have developed into commercial towns which connect north-eastern Kenya and Southern Somalia. Though there are problems of overcrowding and malnutrition, Hagadera has a vibrant central market and a strong economy; Dagahaley provides education for its inhabitants at all levels; and Ifo is a leading camp for healthcare, with hospitals, pre-natal care and a fostering programme.

Kakuma, in northwestern Kenya, homes 100,000 Sudanese and 55,000 Somali refugees, plus inhabitants from 20 other countries. Students here perform above the Kenyan national average, testament to their remarkable ambition, determination and resilience.


Katumba, in Tanzania, is the oldest refugee camp in the world, set up in 1972. Together with Mishamo, also in Tanzania, Katumba is home to Burundian citizens who fled their government’s mass extermination of Hutu civilians in the early 2000s. Many in Mishamo farm their own food and even generate surpluses which benefit the surrounding area. Over 150,000 Burundians have become Tanzanian nationals and see the country as their homeland.


Ethiopia is home to Pugnido, set up in 1993, with a population of 60,000 people comprising mostly of those who are escaping extreme violence in South Sudan. The children here have access to preschools, primary schools and some higher education; in addition, there are three health clinics.

Yida, in South Sudan itself, is an informal settlement with over 70,000 people, who are mostly from Sudan. The UN has unsuccessfully attempted to move the inhabitants away from this volatile area to a safer place.


Altogether in Africa there are almost one million refugees, all striving for a new life in a safe environment.


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