Temporary Camps Become Permanent Cities for Refugees

Published to coincide with World Refugee Day, Smithsonian has assembled an interactive map of the 50 largest refugee camps in the world. Many of the camps, which together house 1.9 million people, are comparable in size to medium-sized U.S. cities.
June 21, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Today, about 45.2 million refugees [PDF] are scattered around the world, a record high in nearly two decades," writes Marina Koren. "Of those, 80 percent are women and children. For 34 million of them, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees offers protection and life-saving supplies at refugee camps in more than 125 countries." 

"Despite the terminology used—'camps' or 'settlements'—many are not temporary; some have existed for years, and for many young refugees, these camps are the only homes they know," she adds. "The Dadaab complex in Kenya, which includes the three biggest camps in the world, was constructed in the early 1990s. The largest of the three, Hagadera, houses 138,102 refugees, which is equivalent to the population of Pasadena, California. For each camp on the map, a comparable American city is listed to convey size."

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Published on Thursday, June 20, 2013 in Smithsonian
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