The forces that have always generated displacement are now more than ever pushing people to become refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in urban areas.
Urbanisation is an irreversible trend. More and more of the people we care for – refugees, returnees, the internally displaced and the stateless – will live in cities and towns and we need to adjust our policies accordingly.
In order to improve urban policies and planning for IDPs, migrants and local communities, it is important to understand forced displacement to urban areas in Colombia in the context of rural-urban migration.
Some IDPs in the Balkans, Caucasus and Turkey seek ‘invisibility’ for security reasons. Others become invisible when they are forced to move again within the city by the actions of city authorities or property owners.
New methodology used for profiling urban IDPs is enabling researchers to assess and contextualise the particular needs of this group and to address the implications for humanitarian action.
Involving IDPs, host communities and international agencies in thinking about the city, the quality of life and economic opportunities in Bossaso has led to significant improvements in settlement organisation and shelter provision for displaced people.
In their new urban situation the reality for displaced Colombians is of day-to-day problem solving.
While the international community is still working out how to identify and best serve them, refugees and IDPs in urban settings are making their own way – often placing themselves at considerable risk.
Many of the accepted health strategies, policies and interventions for refugees are based on past experiences where refugees are in camp settings and in poor countries. Rethinking of these to take account of the many urban and middle-income refugees is underway.
Given the population density and diversity of peoples in urban contexts, it might be expected that urban displaced communities would have strong social networks and support – but a recent study carried out with IDPs in Tbilisi, Georgia, suggested the opposite.
Education has the potential to empower urban refugees to maximise their options, compensate for their disadvantaged position vis-à-vis local citizens and build a more secure future.
Shelter requirements for people displaced into or affected within urban areas will pose major challenges for the humanitarian community. Decision-makers and practitioners calling for urban shelter guidelines have expressed concern about the role of humanitarian organisations.
Refugees know that their safety and wellbeing depend on their accurate reading and careful negotiation of different spaces and landscapes in urban areas.
The reluctance of some humanitarian actors to address the needs of IDPs inconveniently located in urban areas – in contrast to those in camps – belies their commitment to a rights-based approach to assistance and protection.
If government authorities are to identify appropriate durable solutions for urban IDPs, the concerns and aspirations of those most affected by urban displacement must be considered.
Being an urban refugee in Yemen brings far fewer benefits than being in a camp – and scarcely more opportunities.
Municipal authorities present the most immediate interface between a government and its citizens. If the rights of IDPs are to be upheld and their needs addressed, more attention needs to be paid to the municipal level of government.
"Nothing really prepared us for this operation, so we had to adopt an unconventional approach to the way we did business."
Direct financial assistance for refugees in Jordan is proving popular and effective.
Latin America has long had a reputation for offering asylum to those fleeing persecution. The Cities of Solidarity programme provides a concrete mechanism for providing not only asylum but full local integration.
It is often argued that in the UK the dispersal of asylum seekers has led to increased social tensions and threats to ‘community cohesion’. This article challenges this view by showing how a local social movement is encouraging cities to be proud of their status as potential sanctuaries.
UNHCR’s revised urban refugee policy has moved on from its outdated predecessor – but is it fit for purpose?
Decisions being made right from the start through to the post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation effort need to conform to international standards and principles.
The new African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) outlines the obligations of a wide range of actors in all phases of displacement.
NRC’s simple but innovative shelter design provided relief for thousands of displaced people in Pakistan.
IDPs and refugees living in urban contexts are most often beyond the reach of humanitarian and development agencies and outside formal assistance structures.
Ten years after the Millennium Summit, and only five years before the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), progress towards MDG5 – a 75% reduction in global maternal mortality – is most behind schedule.
Far more attention needs to be paid to the circulation of Iraqi refugees across the borders between Iraq and Syria or Jordan. Lack of analysis of this cross-border mobility will be to the detriment of policy planning and the search for durable solutions.
The internal displacement of non-nationals in South Africa raises some questions about the ability of international law to protect this particularly vulnerable group.
Community mobilisation and capacity building where IDPs have been treated as actors rather than recipient, have contributed to improving the delivery and management of services.
The Danish Refugee Council has had to adjust its mandate more than once in order to live up to its vision that no displaced person should be denied protection and a durable solution.
The goal of humanitarian assistance in Timor-Leste during a series of crises from 2006 to2008 became increasingly focused on IDP camp closure, with the assisted return of IDPs to their communities or to alternative living situations.
Forced displacement not only disperses and uproots families but also fractures their framework of beliefs, identities, daily routines, relationships and social fabric, and causes physical, emotional and psychological breakdown.
Research with Zimbabwean migrants in the UK highlights the suffering caused by an immigration regime that prioritises immigration control over its humanitarian obligations.
The conditions put forward by Mauritanian refugees for a successful voluntary repatriation included “a full and real inclusion of their interests in each step of the process”