Kakuma Refugee Camp (2015)

Being a refugee has been traditionally viewed as a temporary situation while people await relocation or the opportunity to return home. Unfortunately, the average tenure of refugees throughout the world is 17 years, while refugee support programs are usually short-term humanitarian and “emergency” oriented.

In northwest Kenya, the Kakuma Refugee Camp is home to over 180,000 refugees from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, and many other sub-Saharan African countries. Kakuma is administered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), a humanitarian organization now tasked with economic development and long-term solutions that it is neither adequately equipped, staffed, nor funded to address. While there are few small-scale shops, in general, Kakuma has minimal economic activity or job opportunities. Education is grossly underfunded, with classroom size at the ironically-named Hope Primary School being 175 students per class. Those children often speak 20 different languages with a single teacher unable to communicate with them. The absence of hope, as well as feelings of isolation, frustration, and abandonment, creates a dangerous environment both for those in the camp and on a global scale.

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