Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp
In this book, Ben Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there.
To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.
A Bleak Existence
Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck.
Rawlence, a writer who studied at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London, spent four years getting to know Dadaab. In City of Thorns, he tells the harrowing stories of those who have sought sanctuary there. They include the stories of Guled, a former child soldier fleeing al-Shabaab, who lives for football; Nisho, born on route to Dadaab in 1991, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; and schoolgirl Kheyro, a student in the camp and later a teacher who came to the camp aged two, with her mother, fleeing civil war in 1992.
No Refuge for Refugees
If you have ever wondered what can drive a person to leave their homes to undertake the precarious journey across the Sahara desert and Mediterranean Sea to seek a new life in Europe this book is for you. If you want a glimpse of the limits to the sanctuary being provided to millions of refugees around the world you should read this lucid, vivid and illuminating book. City of Thorns can be purchased online from a number of retailers.