Where Are the 50 Most Populous Refugee Camps?

Millions of people worldwide flee their homes to escape violence, persecution or natural disasters. Here’s where they live

Today, about 45.2 million refugees are scattered around the world, a record high in nearly two decades. Of those, 80 percent are women and children. For 34 million of them, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees offers protection and life-saving supplies at refugee camps in more than 125 countries. The 50 largest camps, featured on the above map, house more than 1.9 million displaced individuals.

More than 1.6 million people have fled Syria during the country’s ongoing civil war, seeking safety in neighboring countries. The overwhelming majority of the 140,000 refugees residing in Urfa (No. 7) and Gaziantep (No. 31) in Turkey and Zaatri (No. 11) in Jordan came from Syria.

UNHCR provides them with food, safe drinking water, tents, bedding and medical care. The organization also helps refugees seek asylum in another countries and, when possible, reunites families forced to split up when they escaped.

Despite the terminology used—“camps” or “settlements”—many are not temporary; some have existed for years, and for many young refugees, these camps are the only homes they know. The Dadaab complex in Kenya, which includes the three biggest camps in the world, was constructed in the early 1990s. The largest of the three, Hagadera, houses 138,102 refugees, which is equivalent to the population of Pasadena, California. For each camp on the map, a comparable American city is listed to convey size.

World Refugee Day, recognized each year on June 20, honors the millions of displaced men, women and children across the globe.

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