Crime and Exploitation in Refugee Camps

Refugee camps are built for the purposes of providing refuge for victims of conflict who have been forced to flee their homes. In theory, a refugee camp should provide basic needs for refugees, including safety and security. In practice, however,  numerous refugee camps are prone to internal conflict or crime.

In many camps, food, water, and medical supplies are in desperately low supply. There is also often a minimal or non-existent presence of policing. These factors contribute to vulnerable people, such as children, the sick, or the elderly being abused or exploited by more predatory members of the camp.

Many supplies are taken from the vulnerable by intimidation, or violence. Women and young girls can be forced into trading sex for basic supplies, creating a sex-trade market within camps. Since there is little policing as well, children and youths who cannot receive an education often fall into crime circles, or violent militia groups. This, in turn, feeds the cycle of exploitation and violence in places that are supposed to provide safety and refuge.

Removing contributing factors to this situation, like dwindling supplies or lack of schooling, is one of the most effective ways of improving conditions for refugees. Refugees International Japan funds projects that provide long term support for refugees, and empower them with a sustainable means to look toward a better future.

To see some of our ongoing projects, please visit our website:

Also, for more information on refugee camps and internal problems, have a look at this article:

 William Mawhinney


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