The camp of Denan in southeastern Ethiopia holds 10,000 people, officially Ethiopian but ethnically Somali. They are not classified as refugees. They are instead Internally Displaced Peoples, IDPs, and they live in squalor with virtually no aid, food or medicines, not even eligible to benefit from the UN refugee programs. Jarret Schecter emphasises the plight of Africa as a struggle with Western bureaucracy.
In the Ogaden region of southeastern Ethiopia there is a camp with approximately 10,000 people, officially Ethiopian but ethnically Somali. They live there in squalor, with virtually no nourishment or medicines, and with minimal shelter. According to the United Nations they are not refugees, and as such benefit even less from the marginal assistance that refugee programs can offer. Not classified as refugees, they are therefore Internally Displaced Peoples, or IDPs.
The number of IDPs worldwide is staggering, far greater than officially recognised refugees. They number near the equivalent of the population of Canada, for instance. Refugee programs do not reach them. Displaced in Denan is a record of the camp and the efforts of a small town in Connecticut, USA, to help the people there.
The tragedy of Africa is not just the corruption, the poverty, the wars, the civil wars, the droughts, the famine - as if they were not enough. It is also the profound inability of Western societies, desperate to help with or without their politicians, to understand the tribal, even nomadic, claims to the land. Logic and order, in the shape of international borders and agreements, do not hold sway there. Jarret Schecter's referential work on The Denan Project shows how individuals can overcome these bureaucracies, and how desperate the plight of IDPs are with official recognition even less than that of refugees.