The largest flow of modern African migration funnels through a single country — Libya.
Coming from the south, migrants flee the vestiges of wars that have left entire nations in ruin. From the east, they escape a life of indefinite military servitude and violent conflict. From the west, they evade destitution and governments that arbitrarily jail whomever they please.
Some arrive by choice, others by force. But Libya is the purgatory where most migrants prepare to face the deadliest stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.
“Since 2011, over 4 million Syrians have left their homes to avoid the civil war, with roughly 629,000 going to Jordan. A hundred thousand live in refugee camps there, including at the Middle East’s largest camp, the Za’atari. There, over half of the occupants are children, and it’s difficult to educate or train them, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
What makes the structures unique is that they take no construction knowledge, so the refugees can build them on their own. The materials are at their fingertips, because the local rocks or sand provide the insulation. While the Re:Build project has only made two schools thus far, the architects say the structures could also be used as homes and clinics. The modular buildings are designed to break down easily, too, so people can take their houses with them.”
“For decades our television screens have been dominated by images of ragged people, hopelessly isolated within political limbo as destitute refugees. Movies describe refugee camps as exotic edge-of-the-earth locales full of victimized dark-skinned people. Magazines and websites occasionally release an article on a brand new shelter technology, solar stove, or water pump that is expected to change the future of these settlements.
Although often inaccurate, there is some real world legitimacy to these images. A decent example of the typical chaos can be found at this moment in Nigeria. But this is not always, even often, the case. While camp conditions are often poor, there have been strides toward the improvement of camp planning, most notably in Turkey. Many seek funding to further improve existing camps, such as found in this request for assistance to displaced South Sudanese living in Ethiopia. But overall, regardless of funding or geography, the progress of change has been slow and grinding. Refugee camps are an embarrassment to our 21st century civilization. While most refugee camps are not like the movies, they continue to be miserable solutions to a complex political crisis.
Why is it, with all the expertise bubbling in the world, do these places continue to function poorly?…”
“Refugee camps set up by governmental agencies, international organizations like the United Nations and the Red Cross, and NGOs provide a place for displaced people to temporarily access food, water, and shelter. Camps are often set up in an impromptu fashion, designed only to provide basic needs for a short period of time. Tents constructed of inexpensive materials like tarp, which can be easily assembled and transported, provide refugees with places to sleep and protection from the sun and exposure to the elements. However, lacking solid, durable materials and structure, this kind of mass housing solution lasts only about nine years. All too often, the short-term nature of refugee camps leave displaced people without a dignified place to call home.
Recently, architects and designers have been using their knowledge of urban planning and the built environment to envision camps that give refugees more security and protection, helping them recover in more humane conditions. Last year, Architecture for Humanity launched a campaign to raise funds for its “Safe Spaces” project, which envisions a series of welcoming, safe spaces that act as nodal points within the camps. Unlike the often sterile, utilitarian longer-term housing solutions for camps, Architecture for Humanity’s design would incorporate more contextual materials to create a better sense of comfort while shielding refugees from excess heat and daylight. As the nature of refugee camps continue to evolve with the development of new cost-saving materials and technologies, we see more and more proposals that provide better protection from the elements and create a sense of pride and dignity.”
“At the sprawling, city-like Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, the average Syrian refugee is expected to stay as long as 17 years. And yet despite that time frame, many people are living in canvas tents that can start to fall apart in months.
The U.N. is starting to invest in longer-lived prefab housing, like clever new flatpack homes from Ikea. And now a team of architects has proposed a more sustainable way of building homes, schools, and clinics in refugee camps: Using local materials like sand and gravel, the design can be built by refugees with no prior knowledge of construction, using no electricity or water. If a family or school later moves, they can disassemble the building and rebuild it somewhere else…”
“45.2 million people are currently displaced by conflict and persecution,according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). The number accords with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees articulation of a refugee as: an individual who has fled their country “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” But, as their website admits, in the 63 years since the convention, the dynamics of displacement have radically changed. This definition of a refugee does not account for the millions of people currently displaced by natural disasters, droughts, desertification, sea level rise, population growth, or resource scarcity. Of course such ecological crises are also intricately enmeshed in sociopolitical conflicts, complicating attempts to redefine the refugee or to classify a new category of “climate refugees” or “environmental migrants.””
“In 2013 alone some 1 million people have poured out of Syria to escape a civil conflict that has been raging for over two years. The total number of Syrian refugees is well over 2 million, an unprecedented number and a disturbing reality that has put the host countries under immense infrastructural strain.
Host countries at least have a protocol they can follow, however. UN Handbooks are consulted and used to inform an appropriate approach to camp planning issues. Land is negotiated for and a grid layout is set. The method, while general, is meticulous – adequate for an issue with an expiration date.
Or at least it would be if the issue were, in fact, temporary.
Camps don’t pack up their things along with the news crews. The average lifespan of a refugee camp ranges from seven to seventeen years (reports vary), and many last far longer. They are a breeding ground for virulent disease and violent crime – and as camps grow larger and older, reports of violence against women increase disproportionately…”
“Inside one of the aid tents set up inside the migrant camp known as the ‘jungle’ 12 year old Sultana Adam helps her mother to hand out bags of food for the estimated 3000 residents. Sultana fled her home in Jalalabad four months ago and walked for a month to make it to Calais and the chance to smuggle herself into Britain.
“It was dangerous when we crossed from Iran to Turkey and then into Greece,” explains Sultana. Whilst at the camp she is studying English and she has an uncle and cousins in England who she wishes to join to continue her education.
Abby Martin interviews Professor Saskia Sassen about the undiscussed facts behind the 60 million refugees worldwide.
Saskia Sassen is a sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Centennial visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Her most recent book is ‘Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy’
“”In America” is not literally autobiographical (the real Frankie was Sheridan’s brother, who died at 10), but it is intensely personal. It’s not the typical story of turn-of-the-century immigrants facing prejudice and struggle, but a modern story, set in the 1980s and involving new sets of problems, such as racism and the drug addiction in the building and the neighborhood. It is also about the way poverty humiliates those who have always prided themselves on being able to cope. […]”In America” is not unsentimental about its new arrivals (the movie has a warm heart and frankly wants to move us), but it is perceptive about the countless ways in which it is hard to be poor and a stranger in a new land.” (Read more from Robert Ebert)