However it is that we have arrived at this moment, whatever tangle of geopolitical developments has led us to this point, the simple fact is that, according to the U.N., there are now more than twenty-two million refugees in this world. These are people escaping war, violence, or persecution of all sorts who have been forced to flee their country of origin. Add in those who have been driven from their homes but are unable or unwilling to leave their country and the number of forcibly displaced human beings across the planet rises to more than sixty-five million.
Exactly what to do with these people, a heartbreaking number of them children, remains one of the great unanswered questions of our time. No one seems to want this displaced population. In many parts of the world, walls and fences have gone up, and policies have been enacted, all to restrict the entry of refugees. So with nowhere else to go, millions of displaced people have come to find themselves stuck in refugee camps.
To get a sense of what it’s like to live in one of these places, we sent Tufts senior editor Heather Stephenson and chief of photography Alonso Nichols to Kenya, where they spent five days with the Fletcher School alumnus Denis Alma Kuindje, who along with his staff is charged with overseeing the protection of the quarter-million or so residents of the Dadaab refugee complex. In Dadaab, Stephenson and Nichols found a camp that in many ways resembled life in a typical town—with stores, restaurants, and schools—but that in others felt more like a prison, with restricted opportunities to leave, limited rations, and the constant threat of violence. Their powerful report begins on page 22. And for more photos and stories from their trip, plus a number of additional articles about how Tufts faculty, alumni, and students are responding to the international refugee crisis, please visit go.tufts.edu/refugees.
Speaking of the online presentation of the work in Tufts Magazine, I am pleased to announce the formal launch of our sparkling new website, TuftsMagazine.com. There you’ll find all the articles in each new issue, plus loads of other fascinating stories, photos, and videos. It’s everything you love about Tufts Magazine, brought to you every day, and I invite you to stop by and check out the lovely design, sharp storytelling, and easy-to-use format. And for the first and last word on what’s new, please make sure to connect with @TuftsMagazine on Facebook and Twitter.
Finally, an update regarding “The Great Barnum Fire” oral history that ran in the Fall 2016 issue. The terrific photos in the story came from Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, which was the source we credited. Happily, we recently learned the identity of a photographer who shot some of the photos that wound up in the archives and made their way into our article. That would be Jonathan Baer, A76, E76. We thank him for his fine work.