Refugees are people who have been forcibly displaced or fled from their homes due to war, conflict, or fear of persecution. These individuals then seek safety in other countries. At the end of 2021, there were over 27 million refugees around the world. While refugees seek safety and protection in other countries, it can be a long, difficult, and dangerous journey before they find a permanent place to call home.
During that journey, many of these individuals end up living in refugee camps, which are often temporary settlements focused on providing basic necessities to refugees. Even though refugees in camps have escaped from their home countries, there are still other risks they face. Let’s explore the dangers of living in refugee camps.
What Is It Like Living in a Refugee Camp?
Refugee camps are a step toward finding a new place to live and achieving freedom, but they also pose their own challenges. Here are some of the dangers that refugees face in refugee camps:
- Overcrowding - Refugee camps are often overcrowded and house thousands of people in close quarters. This can be dangerous as it makes the spread of disease easier. It is also hazardous in case of an emergency where people need to get out. Overcrowding plays a major role in many of the other issues that refugees face in camps, like not having enough supplies or the appropriate facilities for them to use.
- Sanitation and Hygiene - Refugee camps also suffer from sanitation and hygiene issues, primarily due to a lack of clean water and cleaning supplies. Because of this, illnesses and diseases can easily spread through the entire population. It also means that people are not able to properly clean themselves, wash cooking supplies, or sanitize areas properly.
- Lack of Clean Water - As mentioned above, one of the primary issues in refugee camps is the lack of clean water. On top of not having clean water to properly clean and sanitize things, this also means there is not enough clean water to drink or cook with. Because of this, refugees may face dehydration and illnesses from consuming contaminated water.
- Food Safety - Similarly, the nature of refugee camps is not conducive to cooking and storing food. There are often not reliable power sources to keep food properly cooled or warmed. This leads to dangerous situations where there is not enough safely stored or prepared food, but people are starving and forced to risk eating what they have available. These circumstances can lead to foodborne illnesses and other health issues.
- Fires - Without reliable power sources, many in refugee camps turn to fires as a source of heat for cooking and for warming themselves. However, fires can be incredibly dangerous, especially with the overcrowding found in many refugee camps. This can lead to burns, smoke inhalation, other injuries, and even fires spreading throughout the camp.
- Violence - With little security or armed forces monitoring the situation, many refugee camps can also be a breeding ground for violence. This can occur for many different reasons, like competition for food, water, shelter, and more. While all violence is bad, there are also more abhorrent forms of violence that take place in these camps. This includes gender-based violence and sexual violence. Sexual violence in refugee camps is a major concern, particularly for women and girls. This is because they are more vulnerable and often have no one there to protect them. Because of this, women and girls can live in a state of constant fear where they are worried about going to sleep or using the bathroom.
- Limited Medical Care - Another danger that refugees face in camps is a lack of medical care. Many times, refugees face many various health issues that require immediate medical attention. Combined with the living conditions in many camps, this can lead to worsening health problems and even death.
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) continues to provide humanitarian aid to children and their families—some of whom are refugees fleeing their home countries—through our hospitals, pediatric medical programs, health initiatives, hospital infrastructure projects, orphan and refugee sponsorships, and medical missions. These efforts help to ensure that children in need get the vital assistance they require.
PCRF has a committee of volunteer pediatricians on our Medical Advisory Board who are dedicated to building up services through training, programs, and guiding PCRF to improve the quality of pediatric care in Palestine. This includes providing surgery for children who have scoliosis.
PCRF is not a political or religious organization. Our mission is to provide medical and humanitarian relief collectively and individually to Arab children throughout the Middle East, regardless of their nationality, politics, or religion. We rely on charitable giving to provide medical treatment, surgeries, safety, shelter, and support to children and their families in Palestine and the Levant. Find out how you can get involved and help make a difference in children’s lives today!