The Refugees of Dadaab

The Refugees of Dadaab

In the world's oldest and largest refugee camp, nearly 230,000 people struggle to survive, and have nowhere else to go.

Kenya’s Dadaab Refugee Camp is the oldest and largest refugee camp in the world. Eighty kilometers from the Somali border in the Kenyan desert, the camp was established as a temporary refuge for displaced Somalis in 1991. But seventeen years later almost 500 refugees find their way to Dadaab every day. The population of the camp is now a staggering 230,000 and few have the means to leave.

The refugees rely on handouts to survive. There are few jobs in the camp and little to do. Boredom and hopelessness are rampant. For some, life in the camp is all they know. The first babies born there are now 17 years old. New arrivals and veterans alike all hope to be resettled – to Kenya, Canada, the U.S. — anywhere other than the camp which was only supposed to be a temporary refuge.

Toronto Star photographer Lucas Oleniuk and reporter Michelle Shephard traveled to Dadaab to cover this story, presented as narrated black-and-white video footage and still photographs.

Length: 4:00

Photographer: Lucas Oleniuk
Writer: Michelle Shephard
Editor: Randy Risling