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akzente 4/15 21 IN FOCUS agencies provide basic services, creating little incentive for refugees and the many children born there to leave the camp any time soon. But Dadaab is not controlled by aid workers or the Kenyan authorities: some areas of the camp harbour criminals and members of the al-Shabaab terror group from Somalia. The authorities in Nairobi suspect that the camp is a gateway for al-Shabaab, which terrorises not only Somalia but also its southern neighbour. The Kenyan Government has therefore been attempting to close the camp for some time. Demands for its closure escalated after the attack on Garissa University College earlier this year, when al-Shabaab militants killed 148 people. The attackers are thought to have travelled to Garissa from Somalia, using Dadaab as a staging post. But little pro- gress has been made on its closure. ‘Shutting down a refugee camp is far more difficult than setting one up,’ says a senior UNHCR official who has worked in Darfur. ‘I tried for years and always failed. The longer a camp exists, the more difficult it becomes.’ In refugee camps like Dadaab, the structures are well-es- tablished and have stood the test of time. They may offer practical help to the people living there, but they per- petuate a situation that was supposed to be temporary. And if the camp is closed, what happens to the hundreds of thousands of refugees? Where will they go? These is- sues also have to be considered. Refugee camps are a global problem – and one which is currently being felt acutely by the Kingdom of Jordan, a small country now hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. That’s in addition to the two million Palestinian ‘refugees’ who have lived in Jordan for decades and make up around one third of its population. Zaatari refugee camp – set up in 2012 and now home to around 80,000 Syrian refugees, half of them children – has become almost a city in its own right. The Jordanian Government is keen for Zaatari to remain a temporary camp, but the tents are gradually giving way to more permanent structures. In addition, the authori­ ties are worried about possible infiltration of the camp by fighters from all the various factions in the civil war, as well as by agents of the Assad regime. Drinking water is also a problem: this is a scarce resource in Jordan, and there is barely enough to supply the refugees. Jordan is one of the world’s water-poorest countries and if there are more permanent residents than the natural water supply can support, lasting structures of dependency are created. Dadaab – also located in an arid region – is another ex- ample. Faced with these conditions, the refugees here and elsewhere clearly need new homes. But can refugees be forced to move to safe countries if they don’t want to go? In fact, the opposite trend can be observed: according to UNHCR, in 2014, fewer than 127,000 refugees returned home from camps – the lowest number in 31 years. The host countries – the vast majority of which are developing countries – need help from the international community, if for no other reason than to prevent them from becoming new crisis hotspots. Lebanon – already massively overstretched – has suspended new registra- tions of refugees by the various agencies. It also operates an official ‘no camps’ policy, partly the legacy of Le- banon’s bitter experience during the 1975-1990 civil war, when many of the militias found a safe haven in the labyrinthine Palestinian camps. Another legitimate ques- tion is why the wealthy Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia are not playing their part in hosting refugees. If refugees are welcomed properly and treated as free and autonomous individuals, instead of being stuck in camps and forgotten about, they are able to fulfil their potential. Mass migrations and the individual’s quest » PHotoS:GettyImages/MANDELNGAN(PAGE20),FOREIGNANDCOMMONWEALTHOFFICE(PAGE21) Dadaab refugee camp in the Kenyan desert: almost a city in its own right. At Home in Zaatari: a video about life in one of Jordan’s largest refugee camps. There’s even a high street, known as ‘Champs- Élysées’, with shops and market stalls. NKafLeEnYtM ‘In my experience, going home is the deepest wish of most refugees.’ ANGELINA JOLIE, actor and UN Special Envoy akzente 4/1521