The biggest fields in the world are not in Europe

Pope Francis’ visit to Lesbos has once again focused on the fate of refugees around the world. The situation on the Greek island has improved substantially since the pontiff visited it five years ago, although Greece continues to face problems hosting thousands of people trying to reach the heart of Europe.

However, the Lesbos’ situation is not comparable to that of the largest concentrations of refugees in the world, which far exceed the maximum number of people who came to live in Moria (20,000) and which are not located in rich countries, but in regions already impoverished and plagued by violent conflicts. They are regions in which neither sanitary conditions nor, sometimes, security are guaranteed, not even under the umbrella of international organizations.

There are 30 “active situations” around the planet, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These are some of the most populated camps and settlements.

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh: 800,000 people in the world’s largest field

Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh is home to 867,000 rushes, members of a Muslim religious minority, who fled violent persecution in Burma in 2017. The one at Cox’s Bazar is currently the largest refugee camp in the world and its conditions are far from being healthyEven more so in a country hit every year by monsoon rains.

In total, Rohingya refugees in Burma’s neighboring countries number 907,766, according to UNHCR.

Reports 5 Continents – Four Years of the Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh – Listen Now

Furthermore, the Rohingya are not totally safe in Bangladesh. The fires, some intentional, they are frequent in the fields. The last one, last March, caused 15 deaths and more than 500 wounded. Last September Mohammad Mohibullah, the main representative of the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar, was killed by unidentified assailants. Mohibullah was collecting evidence of an alleged genocide by the Burmese army.

Dadaab and Kakuma (Kenya)

Kenya is one of the most refugee-hosting countries in Africa: 539,084 refugees and asylum seekers (figures from October 2021). Most come from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.

More than 80%, about 433,000 people, they live in the camps of Dadaab (created in 1991) and Kakuma.

The Kenyan government intends to close both fields before June 30, 2022.

The women’s journey to the Kenyan refugee camp of Dadaab, the largest in the world, is fraught with dangers. But the vulnerability of women is also evident at the end of the journey. Many have suffered rape and assault. Many men also complain of insecurity. From UNHCR, they recognize that there is a lack of police officers.

Bentiu (South Sudan)

The armed conflict in South Sudan broke out in December 2013 and thousands of people have been seen forced to leave their homes to seek protection at the bases of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in different parts of the country.

The Bentiu field in northern South Sudan is the largest in the country and currently shelters about 120,000 people (Figures from November 2021), who live in unsanitary conditions, according to a report by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Neighboring Sudan is home to more than a million refugees, more than 700,000 of them South Sudanese. 30% live in fields, and half were born in them.

Zaatari (Jordania)

The Syrian war has produced millions of refugees in the last decade, most of whom are scattered across neighboring countries. In total they are 5.6 million refugees, of which more than 277,000 are registered in fields.

Syrian refugees in the Zaatari camp in Jordan in November 2021. Photo: Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP

In Jordan out of a population of nearly ten million, about 1,200,000, according to Jordanian government estimates, are Syrian refugees, of whom only a tenth live in camps like the one in Zaatari o Azraq and the rest live in urban areas alongside the local population.

Zaatari is the largest field, with 80,000 people (in October 2021), half of them minors.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: millions of displaced and 500,000 refugees

The situation in the DRC cannot be confined to a single field. Since 1998, the east of the country has been mired in a conflict fueled by rebel militias and the Army, despite the presence of the UN peacekeeping mission. More of 5.6 million Congolese have had to leave their homes. Some have become internal refugees and others have crossed borders into neighboring countries.

In addition, the DRC welcomes in turn more than half a million refugees from other countries, mostly from the Central African Republic.

Refugees in the Bunia camp, Ituri province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. REUTERS/Olivia Acland

The combatants do not respect the refugee camps: on November 28, a rebel group killed 26 people in the Jangi-Ivu camp, in the town of Njalaa (Ituri province).

A week earlier, the militias attacked the Drodro and Tché settlements, also in the territory of Djugu, in Ituri, killing at least 44 people, according to official figures, already a hundred according to local sources. As a consequence, the number of refugees in the nearby Roe camp increased from 21,000 to 40,500 in less than 48 hours.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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