The World's Largest Refugee Camp Turns 20

Surrounding the small town of Dadaab, Kenya, is one of the oldest and largest refugee camps in the world, now home more than 332,000 people, mainly from Somalia. (It was originally designed to house just 90,000.) The complex of camps was first established as a temporary solution more than 20 years ago by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), after Somalia descended into a civil war that continues to this day. According to UN estimates, more than 31,000 additional Somalis have arrived in the camps this year alone, as drought and continuing violence between Somali Government forces and Al-Shabaab militants have forced them to seek long-term refuge. To deal with overcrowding, sanitation, and health problems, UNHCR officials were looking to expand the complex by opening a fourth camp, but Kenyan authorities have frozen the plan due to security concerns. These photos offer a view into life in Dadaab.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • - / AFP / Getty

    Dizzying Heights: Vertical Tourism in China

    Chinese developers have opened a series of new tourist attractions in some very lofty places. Glass-bottomed bridges, cliffside walkways, observation decks, and more

  • Charles Platiau / Reuters

    The Ubiquity of Smartphones, as Captured by Photographers

    The total number of smartphone users worldwide will reach an estimated 3 billion this year—here’s a look at the visual landscape.

  • Todd Kennedy

    The 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest

    A selection of entries from this year’s competition, which is open for submissions until November 15

  • Eric Thayer / Reuters

    Photos: The Woolsey Fire Leaves Devastation in Malibu, California

    The Woolsey Fire and the nearby Hill Fire have forced the evacuation of nearly 250,000 residents from their homes near the Pacific Coast in California’s Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.