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Cindy Huang, Sarah Charles, Lauren Post, and Kate Gough
Text by Joanne Offer. Photos by Denise Truscello.
Shimelba, Ethiopia 16 Jun 2010 -
Morning breaks over Shimelba refugee camp in northern Ethiopia. The mud brick houses with thatched roofs are home to around 11,000 refugees who have fled from persecution in neighboring Eritrea. Many of the refugees are children and teenagers who now face life growing up in a refugee camp in a foreign country.
The day starts early for many youngsters, who have to help collect water for their families.
The traditional image of life in tented, sprawling camps no longer tells the full refugee story. As the world urbanises, refugees too are increasingly moving to built up areas - including large towns and cities. Today, almost half of the world's 10.5 million refugees reside in urban areas, with only one-third in camps (UNHCR, 2009). Refugees move to the city in the hope of finding a sense of community, safety and economic independence. However, in reality, what many actually find is harassment, physical assault and poverty.
(Editor's note: While there is no shortage of grim news from drought-stricken portions of the Horn of Africa, here is a story about an effort by the International Rescue Committee and Holland's Stichting Vluchteling that has brightened the lives of more than 12,000 Eritrean farm families.)