24th ilb
5 – 14 Sep 2024 Program
9 – 18 Sep 2024 Young Program


The biggest refugee camp in the world is located in Kenya, in Dadaab. Currently there are about 350.000 refugees living there, which is located close to the border with Somalia. The camp was built in 1991 as a result of the civil war in Somalia which continues to this day. The oldest children who were born in the camp are more than 20 years old and have never seen their home country. Apart from Dadaab, there is another refugee camp in Kenya which is about the size of a smaller city. It is located close to the village of Kakuma in the north of the country. There are mainly South Sudanese refugees living in this camp. 

As it is impossible for Kenya to cope with the funding of those refugee camps on its own, it receives a great deal of financial support from the UN and several NGOs for its humanitarian work. There have been more and more terrorist attacks in Somalia by the terrorist group Al-Shaabab during the past few years. As a result, the Kenyan government now plans to close off the camp in Dadaab and not to take in any more refugees in order to protect the country from Islamic attacks. In May 2016, the Tagesschau German news service reported that the government had disbanded the country’s refugee agency.[1]

Participating author: Abdi Latif Dahir

Abdi Latif Dahir is a journalist with Quartz based in Nairobi, Kenya. He holds a master’s of arts degree in politics and global affairs from the Columbia Journalism School. Abdi was born in Nairobi but grew up partly in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. His pieces about Kenya and Somalia have appeared in national and international media outlets including Al Jazeera English, The Guardian (UK), United Press International, The Africa Report, the Daily Nation and more. 

[1] [1] tagesschau: Kenia will gigantische Flüchtlingslager schließen. https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/kenia-fluechtlingslager-101.html (10.6.2016)

Kenya – Photographs by Abdi Latif Dahir

 ©Abdi Latif Dahir

A bus heading from Garissa town to the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Since its establishment in 1991, Dadaab has morphed into a permanent home for many—a self-styled refugee republic for people locked in a cycle of waiting and waiting. 

Photographed on the 28th of December 2015.

©Abdi Latif Dahir

Amphile Kassim, who has lived in the camps for decades, calls the UN refugee agency “his government,” their logo as “my flag” and the camp as his “only country.” 

Photographed on the 4th of January 2016 in Dadaab.

©Abdi Latif Dahir

Hawa Abdi, who was recently taken to Somalia as part of a UN expedition, said her former hometown of Kismayo wasn’t ready for repatriation. “To leave is no problem,” she said, “but where do we go? 

Photographed on the 1st of January 2016 in Dadaab.