Experiencing life in a refugee camp through virtual glasses

Experiencing life in a refugee camp through virtual glasses

The number of refugees in the world is on the rise. How are families and children going about their daily lives in a refugee camp? The 360-degree video jointly produced by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Red Cross is set in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya.

Photo: Saara Mansikkamäki / Finnish Red Cross

Light is coming through narrow openings in the walls. A suitcase tucked in the corner serves as the family's wardrobe. The blue mosquito net over the bed has been drawn aside. All three family members sleep under it, in the same narrow bed.

The above is an excerpt from the virtual reality video At home in Dadaab, jointly produced by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Red Cross. The video, set in a refugee camp in Kenya, gives you a chance to imagine how it feels to live without a permanent home and in constant uncertainty about the future.

The six-minute 360-degree video takes the viewer to the small home of a disabled single mother from Somalia. The everyday life in the refugee camp and its perspectives are shown through the eyes of her two school-age daughters, Fatouma and Bishara. Both children have lived all their life in the camp.

Finland supports refugees in the camps and in their countries of origin

There are more refugees in the world than ever before: According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), there were a total of 25.4 million people with refugee status at the end of 2017. Eight out of ten of all refugees live in developing countries. The Dadaab camp in Kenya was designed for 90,000 people but at one point, it housed nearly half a million refugees.

Persons with disabilities, such as the mother appearing in the video, are particularly vulnerable to violence and exploitation in the camps. Insecurity is also a common problem in Dadaab. For example, the lack of toilets has led to rapes during the night. The Finnish Red Cross has channelled funds to a programme aimed at improving sanitation and water services in the camp.

Finland provides people in a particularly vulnerable position with humanitarian assistance. Finland has put particular emphasis on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities. Finland played a key role in the adoption of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. With Finnish funding, civil society organisations have trained special needs teachers for persons with disabilities and arranged training in disability issues in refugee camps.

Improvements in maternal health in Somalia

Finland is also working to tackle the causes of the refugee problem. In Somalia, from where the mother appearing in the video has fled to the neighbouring Kenya, reconstruction and stabilisation are supported through development cooperation, crisis management measures and humanitarian assistance.

Finland is providing Somalia with more than EUR 25 million in bilateral assistance between 2017 and 2020. The focus is on enhancing the rights of women and children. The support has helped to make childbirths safer and there has also been a substantial decline in deaths among premature babies.

The video At home in Dadaab can be watched with virtual glasses on YouTube. On the website, you can read more about the Dadaab refugee camp, the family appearing in the video and the humanitarian assistance channelled by Finland to the region.