Cities and towns

With an estimated more than half of the world’s displaced people now living in urban areas, the challenges that emerge are political, developmental and economic rather than purely humanitarian. We published an issue of FMR on ‘Adapting to urban displacement’ in 2010 but there have been many developments since then. Increasing numbers of researchers are now 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.

Cities and towns may 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. How do we build a better quality of life for newcomers? How do we tackle isolation, discrimination, and poor access to services and livelihoods? How can urban living be made more friendly and sustainable for refugees, internally displaced people and stateless people? And what role do refugees and other displaced people – and host communities – play in this? Broad collaboration will be needed to ensure access to basic needs such as employment, shelter, healthcare, education, food, protection and psychosocial support. And beyond basic needs, we should not forget the importance of culture, arts, sport and recreation. A sustainable, holistic approach will require the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including mayors, municipalities, community-based and neighbourhood associations, displaced people’s representatives, civil society and the international community.

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