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World Refugee Day

June 20th is World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations to raise awareness of the 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. They are men, women and children forced to flee their homes due to persecution, violence or conflict. You can read more about this campaign and make donations on the the World Refugee Web site created by the UNHCR.

Above are a few images from Reportage photographers who have focused their attention on refugee crises over the years. Clockwise from top:

SOMALILAND - MARCH 4, 2010: Tired Somali refugees sleep in the desert after traveling all night through rain and muddy roads on their trip to Yemen. Every year, thousands of people risk their lives crossing the Gulf of Aden to escape conflict and poverty in Somalia. (Photo by Ed Ou/Reportage by Getty Images)

LAIZA, KACHIN STATE – DECEMBER 20, 2011: Internally displaced refugees wait for food stamps to be handed out in Jeyang Camp in northern Myanmar. After a 17-year ceasefire, and despite promises to the contrary from Myanmar President Thein Sein, the Burmese Army went on an offensive in June 2011. (Photo by Christian Holst/Reportage by Getty Images)

SOUTH SUDAN - 2012: The shoes of Gasim Issa, who walked for 20 days on his journey from Blue Nile State, Sudan, to South Sudan. He is in his 50s. (Photo by Shannon Jensen)

NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - OCTOBER, 2012: A camp of refugees who fled the conflict between the government and M23 rebels. (Photo by Alvaro Ybarra Zavala/Reportage by Getty Images)

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Today marks World Refugee Day, which the United Nations uses to raise awareness of the plight of the estimated 42 million displaced people worldwide. A UN report released this week showed that 800,000 people were forced to flee across borders last year -- more than any time since 2000. In a message to mark the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help." -- Lloyd Young (30 photos total)
A Myanmar ethnic Rohingya child preparing for a midday prayer on April 23 inside a community school in Klang, a port town 30 kilometres west of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia is observing World Refugee Day along with other countries of the world, there are over 98,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

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In 2008, photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina, who lives in Pakistan, began to stumble across stories of young Afghan refugees, children who were fleeing the country for Europe. Soon after she noticed the phenomenon, she visited a refugee camp in Afghanistan, where she witnessed the funeral of a boy who had died trying to cross from Turkey to Greece. Then, on the same visit, at a hospital, she met a boy who had lost his legs—not as she initially assumed, from a land mine, but as a consequence of having been kidnapped and tortured when trying to go west. “All the time he just kept saying he wanted to get the Europe again, despite the risks. He was just so convinced that there was absolutely no future for him as a young Afghan,” Fazzina says. The last time she saw him was in Greece, where he had again fled, the second time losing the prosthetic legs he had needed after his first attempt at emigration. “He was very lucky to survive that far, and he wasn’t done yet.”

The phenomenon that Fazzina observed first-hand was soon confirmed by statistics. The photographer noted a 64% jump in the number of underage Afghan refugees applying for asylum in Europe in 2010. With money that came that same year with her recognition by UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) as the first journalist to win the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award, along with the support of the Norwegian government, Fazzina began a project to document the hardships faced by young people making that journey from Afghanistan.

That project, Flowers of Afghanistan, is now about one-third completed; Fazzina is planning to continue her work in Iran, Pakistan and Italy in the coming months. “When the U.S. leaves, we’re on the brink of civil war,” she says. “It’s very important to me to be highlighting this at this point in time. It’s very important for people to realize that Afghanistan isn’t a success story.”

Although Fazzina had intended to follow the boys—and the very few girls who make the trip—along the road, photographing them, she has found that the journeys are rarely linear. Before they leave home, the boys hide their travel plans, often even from their parents; smugglers, Fazzina says, warn them that to tell will cast a jinn, a bad spirit, on their travels. And once they leave home, false starts are likely; kidnapping is frequent and deportation is a possibility even for children who seek asylum. Instead, Fazzina says she relies on networks and word of mouth, and perhaps the trust that is more easily won by a woman, to find the refugees at each stop along the way. She says that even smugglers, once they hear about her project, will reach out and provide information about their whereabouts. “Of course I want to see them traveling, but I’m not interested in photographing the smugglers themselves, so a lot of what I’ve been getting has been, in photography terms, very quiet pictures,” she says. Her photos from the series are often dark, capturing a moment of furtive rest or a person who must stay in the shadows, but stillness and gloom does not mean calm. “When I take a step back,” she says, “I often wonder if people really understand how dangerous it was.”

And the more time Fazzina has spent in that shadowy world, the clearer the patterns have become. About half the boys, she says, are fatherless due to war or sickness, thrusting them into positions of responsibility in their families. They are from the least stable provinces in the country. Recently, she met some children in Peshawar who had given up or been deported back to Afghanistan, and noticed another level of pattern. “I started to talk to them about the journey, and it was the same places, the same hotels they were held hostage in,” she says. “It’s very shocking and repetitive.”

Even though Fazzina has rarely been able to literally follow the boys she photographs, she has found that there’s a virtual way to keep track of them: through their own photographs, on Facebook. “I see a boy I’ve met and his pictures of himself in Athens, taken with fast cars and in tourist locations and in borrowed clothes, whereas the reality was he was living in a hotel, like a squat, that was being run by the smuggling mafia, full of prostitutes and drugs. It was a million miles from the pictures he showed,” she says. Unfortunately, that brave face can encourage others to try to make the dangerous journey themselves.

She once tried to make those photos that the boys take of themselves into something more true. One 16-year-old she met was passionate about photography. He was, she says, a “genius” at it. He wanted to be a filmmaker. After he survived for six days in a trucking container and arrived in Rome, Fazzina tried to get a camera to him through her colleagues in Italy. By that time he had left for Paris. They spoke by phone. He said that he had been told that he was too old when he went to a children’s home and that he was too young when he went to a refuge for adults. He was sleeping on the streets, in the winter, in the snow. She still hadn’t gotten a camera to him. He didn’t call again. “He just moved on. He disappeared. I have no idea what happened to him,” she says. “I am fearful what his fate is.”

Alixandra Fazzina is a British photojournalist. She is represented by NOOR Images and is the 2010 recipient of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award. More information about Flowers of Afghanistan is available here.

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Syrians by the thousands are fleeing the violence in their home country and seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Turkey this week is said to be considering a buffer zone in Syria to secure its own national security as well as aid fleeing civilians. Turkey is already sheltering some 17,000 of those who have fled. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the yearlong conflict in Syria. A cease-fire agreement accepted by Syria Tuesday that was drawn up by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan was met with skepticism, and fighting continued between rebels and President Bashar Assad’s soldiers. -- Lloyd Young (32 photos total)
Syrian refugees are seen through a barbed wire as they arrive at border between Syria and Turkey, near Reyhanli, Hatay province, on March 27. Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown on dissent, which monitors say has seen more than 9,100 people killed since March 2011, triggered an influx of refugees on the Turkish border as officials say the current number exceeds 17,000. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

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Oded Balilty / AP

Sudanese Mutasim Qamrawi, 22, shows his scars from the four months he was held in captivity by smugglers in Egypt's Sinai desert at a shelter in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Feb. 16.

Oded Balilty / AP

Sudanese Mutasim Qamrawi is among the growing number of African migrants who say they were captured, held hostage and tortured by Egyptian smugglers hired to sneak them into Israel.

By Jon Sweeney

Mutasim Qamrawi, a 22-year-old from Sudan, is among a growing number of African migrants reporting they were tortured in Egypt's Sinai desert by smugglers despite promises to sneak them into Israel, where they hoped to find freedom and a decent job. The smugglers then extorted the migrants' families for more money.

Human rights advocates say the situation is worsening, because smugglers are using harsher torture methods and demanding more money — as much as $40,000.

Some 50,000 Africans have entered Israel in recent years, fleeing conflict and poverty in search of safety and opportunity in the relatively prosperous Jewish state. They need the smugglers' help to navigate the rugged Sinai desert and reach Israel's border.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this blog post

Oded Balilty / AP

African refugees keep themselves warm at a shelter in Tel Aviv on Feb. 16. Some 50,000 Africans have entered Israel in recent years, fleeing conflict and poverty.

Oded Balilty / AP

African refugees share breakfast at a shelter in Tel Aviv on Feb. 16.

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Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)
A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)

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With East Africa facing its worst drought in 60 years, affecting more than 11 million people, the United Nations has declared a famine in the region for the first time in a generation. Overcrowded refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia are receiving some 3,000 new refugees every day, as families flee from famine-stricken and war-torn areas. The meager food and water that used to support millions in the Horn of Africa is disappearing rapidly, and families strong enough to flee for survival must travel up to a hundred miles, often on foot, hoping to make it to a refugee center, seeking food and aid. Many do not survive the trip. Officials warn that 800,000 children could die of malnutrition across the East African nations of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Aid agencies are frustrated by many crippling situations: the slow response of Western governments, local governments and terrorist groups blocking access, terrorist and bandit attacks, and anti-terrorism laws that restrict who the aid groups can deal with -- not to mention the massive scale of the current crisis. Below are a few images from the past several weeks in East Africa. One immediate way to help is to text "FOOD" to UNICEF (864233) to donate $10, enough to feed a child for 10 days, more ways to help listed here. [38 photos]

Mihag Gedi Farah, a malnourished seven-month-old child weighing only 7.5 pound (3.4kg), is held by his mother in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, on July 26, 2011. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago, in a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death." Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

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MUG SHOT
MUG SHOT: Self-proclaimed comedian and anarchist Jonathan May-Bowles was photographed by a police officer Tuesday after he lunged at Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive and chairman of News Corp., with a plate of shaving cream during a hearing on phone-hacking in London. (Reuters)

BIG CAT ATTACK
BIG CAT ATTACK: A leopard attacked a forest guard Tuesday in Prakash Nagar, India. Six people were mauled by the leopard after the feline strayed into the village and before it was caught by forestry department officials. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

ALL USED UP
ALL USED UP: A young boy lay Tuesday by empty USAID vegetable oil tins Tuesday at a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The Dadaab refugee camp was designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people, but the U.N. estimates more than four times that are living there. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

SPECIAL DELIVERY
SPECIAL DELIVERY: A man pushed a motorcycle carrying slaughtered pigs Tuesday outside a closed shopping mall in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Kham/Reuters)

HEAVY LIFTING
HEAVY LIFTING: U.S. Marine Cpl. William Bock, 22, of Philadelphia, worked out Tuesday under the light of his head lamp at Combat Outpost Shir Ghazay in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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The worst drought in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said. More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating.

Faduma Sakow Abdullahiand her five children tried to escape starvation in Somalia by journeying to a Kenyan refugee camp. Only one day before they reached their destination, her 4-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son died of exhaustion and hunger. At first the 29-year-old widow thought the two were merely sleeping when they wouldn’t get up after a brief rest. She had to leave their bodies under a tree, unburied, so she could push on with her baby, 2-year-old and 3-year-old. She saw more than 20 other children dead or unconscious abandoned on the roadside. Eventually a passing car rescued the rest of her family from what could have been death.

“I never thought I would live to see this horror,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks as she described the 37-day trek to Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have watched their land dry up after years without rain. Then the livestock died. Finally all the food ran out. Now they are making the perilous journey over parched earth to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, regions that also have been hit hard by drought.

 East Africa Drought

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Recently-arrived Somali refugees wait to fill jerry cans with water at a newly-installed tank in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion, but yet to be approved by the Kenyan government, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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Members of the family of Rage Mohamed are overtaken by wind-blown dust as they build a makeshift shelter around a thorny acacia tree, on the outskirts of Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Sunday, July 10, 2011. It took the 15-person family five days to make the journey from their drought-stricken home in Somalia. They spent two nights sleeping in the open air under the tree prior to receiving tarps on Sunday. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A young Somali girl who fled violence and drought in Somalia stands in line among adults outside a food distribution point in Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011. Dadaab, a complex of three settlements, is the world's largest refugee camp. Built to house 90,000 people and home to more than four times that number, it was already well over its maximum capacity before an influx of 30,000 refugees in the month of June. Upon arrival, the refugees find themselves tackling a chaotic system that sees new arrivals go days, even weeks, without food aid. "It still takes too much time for refugees to get proper assistance," Antoine Froidevaux, MSF's field coordinator in Dadaab told AFP. "The answer in terms of humanitarian aid is not satisfactory at all at the moment." ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali woman waiting amongst scores of other refugees, all hoping to receive their ration cards despite a processing backlog, pleads with an organizer in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali man who fled violence and drought in Somalia with his family sits on the ground outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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One-year-old, Habibo Bashir, rests on a bed at a Doctors Without Borders hospital where he is being treated for severe malnutrition, in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A refugee holds her child in her arms as she and others like her mass outside a food distribution point in Dadaab in the hope of getting access to much needed aid at the worlds biggest refugee camp in the world on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali refugee drags a sack with food aid given to her at a food distribution point at the Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Refugees newly arrived from Somalia line up to receive food rations at a receiving center in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 1300 new refugees fleeing drought and hunger in Somalia are arriving daily in the Dadaab area. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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Somali refugees wait in line to recieve aid at a food distribution point at Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

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A Somali man accesses a water point at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali girl being treated for severe malnutrition pushes away a cup as a woman tries to feed her at a hospital operated by the International Rescue Commission. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali refugee waits to receive a food ration for her and her family at a food distribution point. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Somali refugees sit in the yard of their makeshift shelter, fenced in with thorny branches, in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion, but yet to be approved by the Kenyan government, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali woman walks past the frame for a sparsely-covered makeshift shelter in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A carcass of an animal lies on an empty road, near Lagbogal, 56 kilometers from Wajir town, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. The worst drought in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said. More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, (AP Photo/ Sayyid Azim) #

 East Africa Drought

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Sixty-year-old Suban Osman sits with two of her malnourished grand children at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Two-year-old, Aden Salaad, looks up toward his mother, unseen, as she bathes him in a tub at a Doctors Without Borders hospital, where Aden is receiving treatment for malnutrition, in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali boy uses a wheelbarrow to carry two jerry cans filled with water to a tent that he and his family call home at the worlds biggest refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Two-year-old Shiniyo looks while bundled in her mothers arms while they stay at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Kenyan doctor looks at the IV drip on a child suffering from severe malnutrition at a clinic run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. According to Doctors Without Borders, the number of people seeking refugee keeps swelling and Dadaab will house 450,000 refugees by the end of the year, or twice the population of Geneva. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Children walk down a dusty street in Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. Fatimah who fled violence in Somalia with her family one year ago says that she does not venture outside the camp to look for firewood because it is too dangerous. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

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