Cities and towns

Due out February 2020

Deadline for submissions: Monday 4th November 2019

There have been many developments since the 2010 issue of FMR on ‘Adapting to urban displacement’ was published. Increasing numbers of researchers are working in this field and growing numbers of agencies are adapting and developing their programmes in a world of increased urbanisation – including in the face of the projected impacts of climate change and associated rural–urban shifts. Ten years on, FMR will explore contemporary approaches and new technologies, plus the wide range of international frameworks, networks and initiatives in this area from which there is much to be learned.

Cities and towns can be welcoming spaces of sanctuary, solidarity, integration and opportunity but many who are displaced from their homes by conflict, persecution and other drivers encounter a very different kind of space. Newcomers frequently struggle to access even basic services – shelter, food, water, health care and education – let alone employment, protection and other elements that contribute to a good quality of life.

Challenges may emerge for local and regional authorities in meeting newcomers’ basic needs and also in addressing, for example, new health issues and changing demographics. Tensions may also emerge between different authorities as to their respective roles and responsibilities. The arrival and integration (or lack thereof) of displaced people can trigger friction between host communities and newcomers, in light of real or perceived differences in access to services and assistance. And the cultures, livelihoods and livestock that displaced people bring with them can introduce additional complexities. When efforts to include and integrate newcomers are successful, however, communities can be strengthened and opportunities provided for all inhabitants.

A sustainable, holistic approach will require the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including local, regional and national authorities, mayors, municipalities, community-based and neighbourhood associations, displaced people’s representatives, civil society, the private sector, and the international humanitarian/development community.

This issue of FMR will provide a forum for practitioners, advocates, policymakers and researchers – including urban planners and local and regional authorities – to share experience and good practice, debate perspectives and offer recommendations around these challenges and developments. In particular, the FMR Editors are looking for practice-oriented submissions, reflecting a diverse range of experience and opinions, which address questions such as the following:


  1. Analysing needs and challenges
  • With increasing numbers of people being displaced to cities and towns, and with greater engagement of a wider range of actors, what do we now know about the scale and complexity of challenges relating to the needs of refugees, IDPs and stateless people in urban contexts?
  • What are the universal challenges involved with displacement to urban contexts? What variables come into play in different contexts and locations?
  • Is sufficient focus paid to smaller urban settlements? How do the challenges and opportunities vary from those experienced in cities?
  • What are the environmental impacts on urban settings, how are cities and towns responding, and what good practice has emerged?
  • What data exist and what are needed to ensure accurate assessment of needs and to support an informed approach? Can data assist in measuring integration?
  • How do cities and towns cope with the loss and/or return of sections of their populations?


  1. Frameworks, approaches and initiatives
  • What new approaches have emerged in response to Sustainable Development Goal 11 to ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’? What can be learned from the successes and failures of implementation?
  • What contributions have been made by frameworks, networks and initatives such as the New Urban Agenda, the Cities Alliance, the Global Alliance for Urban Crises, Mayors Migration Council, C40 Cities, Welcoming Cities, United Cities and Local Governments, Cities #WithRefugees, International Cities of Refuge Network, Cities of Sanctuary and Cities of Solidarity?
  • What contribution might the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) make in this arena, having identified cities and city networks as key stakeholders in comprehensive refugee responses? What support do local authorities and mayors need to implement the GCR at the local level?
  • Are global, national and local initiatives making a difference, and what can be learned from these? What good practice has emerged?
  • How are cities addressing the food and agriculture needs of a larger population? What role can new technologies and city farms play? How do these involve both host and newcomer communities?
  • What effects does displacement have on animal life – including livestock, feral animals and wildlife – in cities and towns? How can host communities and newcomers respond?
  • What engineering and other technical innovations are helping cities to address their populations’ needs?
  • How can urban authorities address the challenges of multiple and overlapping crises?
  • How effective and inclusive are ‘area-based’ (or ‘place-based’) approaches?
  • Do national and local authorities set goals and develop policies in terms of integration of newcomers? If not, why not, and how might they approach this challenge?


  1. Multi-stakeholder collaboration and engagement 
  • What role do host communities play in receiving, hosting and supporting newcomers? What examples are there of good practice? How can host communities be supported?
  • The engagement of mayors and municipalities is increasingly recognised as of key importance in enabling more equitable access to services for both newcomers and vulnerable host communities. What examples are there of good municipal practice – whether local laws, policies or strategies – that support and enable inclusion?
  • Does the cluster system operate effectively in urban contexts?
  • Do international, national and local actors need to adapt their working practices to become more flexible, more complementary and more sustainable? How?
  • How can humanitarian and development actors effectively support local authorities in ways that work for both displaced and host communities? How do the various actors navigate competition and power disparities?
  • What examples exist of effective multi-stakeholder models?


  1. Resilience and sustainability
  • What does ‘urban resilience’ look like and how can it be achieved?
  • What role do refugees, IDPs, stateless people and host populations play in helping to build cohesive, sustainable communities?
  • Beyond access to basic services, how do cities and towns help build a broader quality of life for all inhabitants – in terms of culture, arts, sport and recreation? How can issues of trauma, isolation and discrimination be addressed?
  • How has the impact of climate change affected movements to urban settings and the challenges associated with this? How are different urban actors and innovators responding to the climate emergency?
  • How can coordinated urban approaches be financed sustainably and effectively? What is the role of development banks and mechanisms such as blended financing?
  • How can local authority capacity for the management and monitoring of such financing be developed?


BEFORE WRITING YOUR ARTICLE: If you are interested in contributing, please email the Editors at with a few sentences about your proposed topic so that we can provide feedback and let you know if we are interested in receiving your submission.  

WHEN WRITING/SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE: Please take note of our guidelines for authors and ensure your article, when submitted, complies with our submission checklist: details at do not accept articles that do not comply with our checklist.

Please note: We ask all authors to give appropriate consideration to the particular relevance of their responses to persons with disabilities, to LGBTIQ+ persons, to older persons, and to other groups with specific vulnerabilities, and to seek to include a gendered approach as part of their articles. We also ask authors to consider, where appropriate, the impact of climate change in their analysis and recommendations.

While we are looking for examples of good, replicable practice and experience as well as sound analysis of the issues at stake, we also urge writers to discuss failures and difficulties: what does/did not work so well, and why?

We are particularly keen to reflect the experiences and knowledge of communities and individuals directly affected by these questions. If you have suggestions of colleagues or community representatives who may wish to contribute, please do email us; we are happy to work with individuals to help them develop an article and very keen to have displaced peoples perspectives reflected in the magazine.

Deadline for submission of articles: Monday 4th November 2019

Maximum length: 2,500 words.


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Forced Migration Review
Refugee Studies Centre
Oxford Department of International Development
University of Oxford
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