The Stream

Can #TEDxKakumaCamp change how refugee camps are seen?

We discuss how a first-of-its-kind TEDx event hopes to reshape a stereotype.

When many people picture a refugee camp they see a sprawling mass of helpless individuals. But the reality is often the opposite. A growing number of camps are booming enclaves of business, innovation and culture. Challenging the stereotypes around refugees is one mission of #TEDxKakumaCamp, a first of its kind event for TED, the influential conference network that hosts online talks on a range of scientific, cultural and academic topics.

The gathering is being held at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya and the list of speakers includes refugees, aid workers and Somali-American supermodel Halima Aden, who grew up at the camp, among others.

Kakuma was set up in 1992, initially to take in mostly Sudanese refugees. It is now one of the world’s biggest refugee camps, hosting about 185,000 people who’ve fled war or persecution from 19 African countries. A May 2018 report by the the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the UN refugee agency estimates Kakuma’s informal economy is worth $56 million dollars.  It’s also connected, with approximately 70 percent of the people who live there having access to mobile phones.

On this episode of The Stream we discuss how Kakuma is redefining what a refugee camp is. 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:​

Melissa Fleming @melissarfleming
Chief Spokesperson, UNHCR & Co-host of #TEDxKakuma Camp

Rahul Oka
Economic Anthropologist

Akec Chuot @AkecMakur 
Multicultural Development Officer, AFL Victoria 

Halima Aden @Kinglimaa

Read more: 

TEDxKakumaCamp, the first TEDx event from a refugee camp – Egypt Today 
Kakuma: A refugee camp with its own informal economy – International Finance Corporation 

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