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Throughout the world, more than 40 million people are on the run. In the following, we describe the accommodations in the refugee camp of Tobanda, Sierra Leone, a typical camp of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The majority of refugees have only few things left to them, which is why they receive first of all lamps, blankets, cooking pots, plates, cups and canisters for water preparation once they arrive at the UNHCR camps. While the average German citizen needs about 130 litre of water per day, the refugees have to do with a maximum of 20 litres a day.
However, due to extreme weather conditions, there’s often even less water available. People there get their water out of wells, and as there are about 100 people per well a day, they often have to wait in long queues. In order to secure a basic provision with nutrition, refugees are mostly given rice, cooking oil and a bit of salt. The accommodations are generally set up by the refugees themselves, and are made from wood and clay. As a protection from the extreme weather and malaria mosquitoes, the huts are equipped with plastic sheeting. There are about four square metres of living space per person, so there are thousands of refugees living at close quarters, with temperature usually rising above 40°C, high air moisture and extreme fluctuation in temperature in the deserts.

In order to survive the harsh daily life in the makeshift accommodations, strong solidarity among the refugees is vital.
The numerous children who became orphans through civil wars before coming to the camps are accommodated at foster families and are supported by them. Women living on their own, as well as the old and ill people are dependent on the other refugees’ support, too. In most camps, there are schools, where refugee children are taught, at least a few hours per day, to read, to write and to perform basic arithmetic operations. This gives those children routine in their daily lives as refugees and later on, after they will have returned to their home land, will help them to find a job and contribute to rebuilding their country.

This post is also available in: German