Saved Anthologies

Foreign Affairs Anthology Series

The Best of Books 2016


All anthologies are free when you subscribe

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

In This Review

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp
By Ben Rawlence
Picador, 2016
400 pp.

With well over 300,000 inhabitants, the five camps that make up the UN base in Dadaab, in eastern Kenya, constitute the biggest refugee complex in the world. Opened in 1992, as civil war in Somalia drove a mass exodus of refugees, the camp has expanded to take in more people with each new crisis in that country. Rawlence’s stunning, disturbing portrait of Dadaab begins in 2011, when the rise of the Islamist militia al Shabab ignited yet another cycle of violence in and around Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The book follows the daily lives of nine individuals in various settlements in Dadaab as they struggle to survive and retain their humanity in an uncertain, violent environment without adequate food or social services. Rawlence focuses on the refugees, but his book is also a damning portrait of the camp as a woeful failure on the part the Kenyan government and the international community. As one of the book’s protagonists rueully concedes, coming to Dadaab from Somalia was like trading one version of hell for another. 

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.