From the Editors


All displaced people need some form of shelter, and circumstances dictate that in reality not much of it conforms to the typical picture of a tent or tarpaulin nor meets official standards. The types of shelter and settlement responses found, employed and created by, and created for, displaced people profoundly affect their experience of displacement. It should provide some protection from the elements and physical security for those who dwell in it, and the articles in this issue of FMR give a glimpse of just some of the many ways this is possible.

But displaced people also seek safety, comfort, emotional security, some mitigation of risk and of the unease that accompanies being displaced, and even, as time passes, some semblance of home. Displacement also disrupts community but even a temporary shelter can conform to people’s notions of home and belonging. The re-forming of community – whether from among one’s own people or among other displaced people and, importantly, among those into whose place one has been displaced – is an essential part of successful, satisfactory and sustainable shelter.

The articles in this FMR address these factors from a range of points of view: those of hosts, of agencies, of designers and of displaced people. The complexity of approaches to shelter both as a physical object in a physical location and as a response to essential human needs has engaged many humanitarian actors and, increasingly, designers, architects and innovators too. Technical shelter guidelines are widely available, so we have not attempted to include them here; instead we have selected articles that show some of how the guidelines play out in reality. Other articles show where and how displaced people establish themselves, how design considerations relate to the social and cultural reality of those who will live in the shelters, and how people make, inhabit, transform and adapt their shelter and settlement.

We would like to thank Thomas Whitworth and Nina Birkeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council and Tom Scott-Smith of the Refugee Studies Centre for their assistance as advisors on the feature theme of this issue.

We are also very grateful to the following for their financial support for this issue: Better Shelter, Happold Foundation, Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, Norwegian Refugee Council, Open Society Foundations, Suricatta Systems, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, UN-Habitat and UNHCR (DPSM).

Formats and languages: The full issue and all the individual articles in this issue are online in html, pdf and audio formats at FMR 55 and its accompanying digest (which provides introductions to all articles plus QR/web links) will be available free of charge online and in print in English, Arabic, French and Spanish.

If you would like printed copies of either the magazine or the digest, in any language, please email us at

Please disseminate this issue through your networks, mention it on Twitter and Facebook, and add it to resources lists.

Forthcoming issues and feature themes:
For details, including article submission deadlines, for the following future issues please see

  • FMR 56: Latin America and the Caribbean (due out October 2017)
  • FMR 57: The Middle East (due out February 2018)

Maurice Herson, who has been one of the Co-Editors of FMR since the beginning of 2008, is retiring at the end of June. We thank him for his contribution to FMR as Co-Editor, and welcome Jenny Peebles as the new Co-Editor.


إخلاء مسؤولية

جميع الآراء الواردة في نشرة الهجرة القسرية لا تعكس بالضرورة آراء المحررين ولا آراء مركز دراسات اللاجئين أو جامعة أكسفورد.