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The Future of the Forgotten: Life in Middle-Eastern Refugee Camps

We are currently witnessing the largest migration movement since World War II, and it’s only just begun. The last few years have been disastrous for several countries in the Middle East, more precisely Syria, but also Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. As we now know, these conflicts lead to massive migration movements, and in turn, we see an intensification of refugee camps. Fortunately, with the humanity and generosity of some Western countries, a considerable amount of them will be rescued. Indeed, countries such as Germany, France, and Canada are opening their frontiers to a specific amount of refugees in hopes to give a better life to these victims of war. However, the admirable effort by these countries redirects our focus entirely from the situation. Regrettably, a lot of refugees will not receive help from the international community and will then stay in these camps indeterminably. By looking into the past, we can clearly see that these forgotten have no future.

Leaving their homes, cars, personal items, and neighbourhoods to seek asylum, the hope for refugees is often limited to vitality in camps where basic needs are not even satisfied. Perceived as a temporary situation, we tend to agree that sacrifices are required during wartime in order to go back to the status quo afterwards. However, is this situation really temporary? We may answer this question by looking at the present largest refugee camp in the world in Dadaab, Kenya.

Created in 1992 by the United Nations, the camp mostly welcomes refugees from Somalia affected by the civil war. Initially developed to accommodate a maximum of 80,000 refugees, the camp today holds more than 330,000 people. We may now categorize Dadaab as a city where people inhabit all their life – some refugees are born there and will even die there. Those refugees have no citizenship, no money, and no property to call their own. A temporary solution taken solely for their survival turns into an everlasting dire circumstance.

Luckily, the current circumstances of refugees in the Middle East are highly covered by the media – providing an opportunity that people from Dadaab still do not have. Nevertheless, the future for refugees who are not welcomed in a foreign country is bleak. If we observe the amount of refugees in camps in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, the numbers are astronomical, and they are continually increasing. These three countries are now home to more than 3.6 million refugees: 630,00 in Jordan, more than a million in Lebanon, and more than 2 million in Turkey. Due to the erratic geopolitical reality in the Middle East and the continuous extremist annihilation by ISIS, further unrest is expected, thus only worsening the refugee camps dilemma. Although, some Western countries are trying to rescue some of these migrants, the majority are desolated in refugee camps for life.

The present strategy demands amelioration. Entire families perish their lives in a refugee camp, where they barely have food and water, enduring poor sanitation systems, without anything to look forward to. These victims are lodged far from civilization without integration into any other society. With more help and resources, they could certainly develop a sense of community so that their lives become meaningful again. I am obviously aware of the many complications of integrating that many people in various societies, but I truly believe that these people deserve more than the inevitable future of death in refugee camps.

The unchanged dejected example in Dadaab spawns a terrible analogy for the millions of refugees in the Middle East. The marginalization of refugees in camps is deepening the hole between them and civilization, to a point where they will be neglected like the people in Dadaab, where their future will be bound to dying in a camp.

–Alex Héroux

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About Alex Héroux

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