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Irhoborin Refugee Settlement
The Irhoborin Refugee Settlement, near Molli, Franquete-Adeba, CCA, is one of the largest refugee camps in the world (map). Densely packed into almost exactly 5 km2 are over 150,000 people, mostly from the eastern area of the province, where fighting in the ongoing separatist conflicts has been exceptionally violent.
The camp has been built in four "phases," each phase consisting of four "zones" with approximately 1000 10-person (two family) "tents" (not really tents but plywood structures on gravel floors). Thus the planned capacity for the camp was originally 160,000. With the destruction of Phase II, however, the current official capacity for the settlement is listed as 122380 persons.
- Phase I (1987) - Zones A, B, C, D
- Phase II (1988) - Zones E, F, G, H (all destroyed)
- Phase III (1994) - Zones J, K, L, M ("Zone I" was skipped because of the confusion created by the letter "i").
- Phase IV (2002) - Zones N, O, P, Q
Each Zone has an administration building.
Administration and AN Civilian Protection Battalion
South of settlement, to the south of the village of Molli, there is an airstrip and AN base where the 476th Civilian Protection Battalion is headquartered. This battalion has nominal charge of the settlement but the day-to-day administration, policing, etc., is mostly in the hands of various civilian agencies, some unique to the settlement while others adjunct to local pre-existing civilian authorities.
There are 4 police posts within the settlement boundaries, and the settlement security forces also provide supplementary services to the police agencies in surrounding communities, especially those recently built in the adjacent slum areas.
There are aslo two small AN Garrison posts, one in Molli and one in Bisko, which mostly provide a secure place for police and security services to store materiel.
There are two Settlement Schools, one on the east and one on the west. They are of course at nearly 300% capacity each, and still only serve a tiny fraction of the children in the camp. The Zozete Foundation also operates a school along with its madrassa near the center of Phase I, but the foundation focuses on the Sunnian community.
In early 2002, discontent among the camp residents grew high when food shipments were temporarily suspended. A lack of functioning latrines had led to the drainage ditches in the camp filling with raw sewage and earlier floods had damaged the ditches, preventing them from flowing. Criminal elements in the camps became even more active, as well, robbing people's allotment gardens. There were even unsubstantiated rumors of the buying and selling of corpses for meat.
People were in a panic, and everything exploded in March, 2002. The riots were highly destructive. The four zones of Phase II, Zones E, F, G and H, were looted and burned as police and AN troops lost control of the situation. The end result was an even worse situation for everyone, as the camp was locked down by more military control and 45,000 residents were displaced. The Phase IV area was accelerated, accommodating most of those displaced.
The term "mushroomery" is a local slang term referring to the unorganized slum communities that seemingly appear overnight (hence the name: "they grow like mushrooms") along the boundaries of the formally delimited refugee settlement.
These slums, although not formally recognized by the Franquete-Adeban government, have recently been accorded some status as neighborhoods under the onus of the camp administration, and some very basic services have been introduced, including police protection, some medical services and a technical right to attend the crowded public schools.
Each of the mushroomeries has a somewhat distinct character.
Alphabet is the only mushroomery within the original camp boundaries, it appeared in the area where the former Zones E, F, G and H had been, prior to their destruction by the riots (see above). Originally the areas destroyed by the riots had been converted by the camp administration into allotments areas, for food growing. However, it was inevitable that overcrowding in the remaining zones would lead to people building makeshift shelters in the allotment areas too. Eventually, an innovative camp administrator began placing shipping containers in rows in part of the area, which people quickly occupied and converted into homes.
Bisko is the oldest of the mushroomeries, in fact predating the refugee camp by a few years. It was a small hamlet along the Depths of Jungle Road that began to expand exponentially in response to the arrival of displaced perople during the conflict. The Bisko slum is probably the reason the camp was placed where it was.
Chaos Road is really an extention of the the Bisko mushroomery, filling in the empty area between the original Bisko slum and the boundary of the camp. There is in fact quite a bit of commercial activity in the area, and it has also become the home for various charity organizations, including the substantial Ortholic Children's Resettlement Facility (popularly called simply "The Orphanage").
This mushroomery's unusual name derives from a quite violent form of recreation that has become popular among some youth subcultures in the settlement areas, the so-called "Chicken Game." Essentially, the game is a kind of gladiator tournament, wherein the two combatants pretend to be roosters engaged in a cockfight. Just as in a cockfight, knife-bladed spurs are attached to the shoes and facemasks of the fighters (like the spurs on the cocks' feet and beaks), while the fighters' hands are tied behind their backs to simulate the fact that the cocks' wings are not a major combat tool. Efforts by the camp authorities to stop the games caused them to be moved to the cane fields west of the settlement, and subsequently a community appeared. The area is entirely under the control of a various syndicates of the settlement youth gangs. It is the most dangerous of the mushroomeries.
A former scrapyard full of broken escalators lends its name to this area at the southwest corner of the settlement. The escalators and surrounding overgrowth have taken on the air of a public garden, with many residents cultivating flowers and vegetables and creating ad hoc public art pieces. Arguably, this mushroomery is the one that has developed the most successful economy and identity, and there has even been a strange sort of gentrification around the Escalator Fields themselves as travelers and curious outsiders come to take a look. Recently an international chain coffee shop opened a franchise in a tin shack nearby.
Hellsview Estates is the youngest of the mushroomeries, having arisen on the elevated lands just east of Phase III in 2009. The name was clearly meant to be ironic, but it has stuck. Still lacking a police agency or even basic services, it is the poorest and most desperate of the slums around the camp, currently, but conditions have begun to stabilize.
Riotville appeared, as its name indicates, immediately in the wake of the 2002 riots, mostly consisting of people displaced by the destruction of the four zones. Since the Ses Road entrance onto Cane Road is the settlement's busiest, there has emerged a thriving commercial zone along Cane Road in Riotville.
Although not technically "mushroomeries," the influx of refugees and other economic migrants has severely impacted pre-existing villages and hamlets in the area immediately around the settlement. Notably, formerly tiny towns such as Negaka (on the lakeshore), Azu, Poushwouka, and the original local focal village of Molli have all been swollen beyond what their limited infrastructure can bear.
To some extent, the camp administrators have been forced to expand the purview of their operations into these communities, sometimes to the resentment of the original local inhabitants. There have been many incidences of violence between "mushroomers" and "locals."
The AN base south of Molli also has been a source of jobs and income for the community, however. The AN administration building in Molli, called simply "The Building" by locals, is the village's largest employer and has lent its name to the surrounding neighborhood.