refugee camp

GC: n

S: UNHCR – (last access: 27 November 2014); Smithsonian – (last access: 27 December 2018).

N: 1. – refugee (n): 1680s, from French refugié, noun use of past participle of refugier “to take SHELTER , protect,” from Old French refuge . First applied to French Huguenots who migrated after the revocation (1685) of the Edict of Nantes. The word meant “one seeking asylum,” till 1914, when it evolved to mean “one fleeing home” (first applied in this sense to civilians in Flanders heading west to escape fighting in World War I).
– camp (n): “place where an army lodges temporarily,” 1520s, from French camp, from Italian campo, from Latin campus “open field, level space” (also source of French champ; see campus), especially “open space for military exercise”.
2. The differences between camp and settlement approaches to refugee assistance are behind what Kibreab once called the ‘most sustained single controversy in African Refugee Studies’ (Kibreab 1991) which surrounds the comparative advantages of self-settlement to organized settlement and refugee camps. It is a debate with very real implications. Although these numbers should be treated with caution, according to UNHCR (2002 est.) there are currently some 5.8 million refugees hosted in camps and centres around the world. This includes over 50 per cent of all UNHCR-assisted refugees in Africa (a total of 2,169,558 people), and 35 per cent of refugees in Asia. Clearly, camps and, albeit to a much lesser degree, planned rural settlements, constitute the main method of refugee assistance in the developing world, with the notable exception of Latin America.
3. Indeed, refugee camps easily qualify as the most conspicuous element of refugee assistance. They shape most Western images of the refugee phenomenon in developing countries – reflected for instance in the fact that awareness-raising campaigns by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) involve a travelling exhibition reproducing a refugee camp. It is notable though that even though camps are often seen as a third-world phenomenon, increasing use of detention centres in the West seems to reintroduce ‘camp-based’ answers to refugee issues here too. .
4. About 45.2 million refugees are scattered around the world, a record high in nearly two decades. 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.
5. The world’s biggest refugee camp, Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya. UNHCR, which manages the Dadaab complex, set up the first camps there between October 1991 and June 1992. This followed a civil war in Somalia that in 1991 had culminated in the fall of Mogadishu and overthrow of the central government. The original intention was for the three Dadaab camps to host up to 90,000 people. However today they host more than 463,000 refugees, including some 10,000 third-generation refugees born in Dadaab to refugee parents who were also born there.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 27 December 2018). 2 & 3. Alnap – (last access: 27 December 2018). 4. Smithsonian – (last access: 27 December 2018). 5. UNHCR – (last access: 27 December 2018).


CR: asylum, boat people, concentration camp, human settlement, refugee, shanty, shanty town.