When Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp opened in 1992, it was intended to temporarily house 90,000 Somalis fleeing conflict. As of 2016, nearly half a million people live in the camp—including some who have been there more than two decades. That unintended endurance is not an outlier; similar camps have become permanent national fixtures around the world. “The crisis is getting longer for more people,” said Saskia Blume, a UNICEF child protection specialist focusing on migration, at an event hosted by AIANY at the Center for Architecture last Tuesday. “We're not talking about a temporary solution. We're talking about city-like camps where people spend generations and children are born.”
Blume was part of the discussion “We Are All Neighbors: Refugees and the Architecture of Resettlement,” which addressed how to confront the increasingly urgent crisis of refugee housing and community building. Blume was joined by Brandon Fuller, chairperson of Refugee Cities and deputy director of NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, as well as architect Esin Pektas, who is working on refugee projects in her native Turkey. Sean Anderson, associate curator in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Architecture and Design, served as moderator.