Refugee Camps or Cities? The Socio-economic Dynamics of the Dadaab and Kakuma Camps in Northern Kenya
PEROUSE DE MONTCLOS, MARC-ANTOINE
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Many refugee camps last longer than basic transient settlements. Their size, their population density, their layout, their concentration of infrastructures, their socio-occupational profile and the trading activities they have developed give them urban features. Yet their durability depends on other factors, including the relationship between refugees and the indigenous population, and the ecological environment, i.e. access to local resources. This article argues that a political backing is crucial since the host country can facilitate or forbid refugee settlements. In any case, a complete withdrawal or a sudden contraction of humanitarian aid would not automatically mean the closure of camps: whether because self-sustainability would allow virtual cities to emerge as market towns, or because refugees would refuse to come back home and would become clandestine migrants.