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Refugee camp

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 NGOs.

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.[2] 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 humanitarian aid to supply their troops.[3] Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire[4] and Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand[5] supported armed groups until their destruction by local military forces.


  • Facilities 1
  • Duration 2
  • Work and employment in refugee camps 3
  • Refugee resettlement 4
  • Notable refugee camps 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Facilities of a refugee camp can include the following:[6]

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.

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[7] and analyzed via GIS.[8][9]


People may stay in these camps, receiving emergency food and medical aid, until it is safe to return to their homes. 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.

Although camps are intended to be temporary, it is possible for camps to remain in place for decades. Some Palestinian refugee camps have existed since 1948, while other well-known camps such as Buduburam in Ghana have hosted populations for over 20 years.

Work and employment in refugee camps

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."[10]
If enough aid is provided to refugees, it can help host countries too, through stimulus effects.[11] However refugee support does not usually provide cash to create effective demand,[12] 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.

Refugee resettlement

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.[13] 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.

Notable refugee camps

Darfur refugee camp in Chad
Nong Samet Refugee Camp on the Thai-Cambodian border, May 1984

See also


  1. ^ UNHCR: "Displacement: The New 21st Century Challenge," 2012; p. 35.
  2. ^ Daniel, E.V., and Knudsen, J. eds. Mistrusting Refugees 1995, University of California Press. ISBN 9780520088993
  3. ^ Barber, Ben. "Feeding refugees, or war? The dilemma of humanitarian aid." Foreign Affairs (1997): 8-14.
  4. ^ Van Der Meeren, Rachel. "Three decades in exile: Rwandan refugees 1960-1990." J. Refugee Stud. 9 (1996): 252.
  5. ^ a b Reynell, J. Political Pawns: Refugees on the Thai-Kampuchean Border. Oxford: Refugee Studies Programme, 1989.
  6. ^ Macmillan, Oxford: 1997.Refugee Health: An approach to emergency situations,Médecins Sans Frontières,
  7. ^
  8. ^ Beaudou A., Cambrézy L., Zaiss R., "Geographical Information system, environment and camp planning in refugee hosting areas: Approach, methods and application in Uganda," Institute for Research in Development (IRD); November 2003.
  9. ^ Alain Beaudou, Luc Cambrézy, Marc Souris, "Environment, cartography, demography and geographical information system in the refugee camps Dadaab, Kakuma – Kenya," October 1999 UNHCR – IRD (ORSTOM).
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Refugees and New Zealand at the Refugee Services
  14. ^ Life getting harder for Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ UNHCR: "Displacement: The New 21st Century Challenge," p. 34.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

  • UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency - Data Sharing Tool - Interactive map and passport of every refugee camp, data sharing tool updated by every organisation in the camp
  • Camp Management Toolkit published by Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Shelter Library Resource for organisations responding to the transitional settlement and shelter needs of displaced populations
  • Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City. An awareness raising touring event organized by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants' Campaign to End Refugee Warehousing in refugee camps around the world, people are confined to their settlement and denied their basic rights.
  • Refuge Essay on Life in a Refugee Camp
  • Thai-Cambodian Border Camps
  • An Assessment of Sphere Humanitarian Standards for Shelter and Settlement Planning in Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camps
  • The open source and open hardware OLPC One School Per Child Initiative link Refugee Camps
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