The traditional image of refugees living in sprawling tents no longer tells the true story of refugee movements in the 21 century. Most refugees now make their ways to the cities as refugee camps present extremely poor living and security conditions. Although they are supposed to be temporary, most refugee camps are maintained for years. Compared to camps, cities present obvious opportunities to build a better future, and that's why millions of refugees now live in urban settings.
When they settle in a city, urban refugees are usually confronted with the same poverty problems as the local urban poor. Yet they also face additional challenges due to their refugee status: in most cases, they live with the constant fear of being arrested, detained and returned forcibly to their home country. They are denied access to basic services such as education or health and are exposed to harassment, intimidation and discrimination.
Because urban refugees tend to keep a low profile and are dispersed in the city, they often pass under the humanitarian radar. Supporting and protecting refugees in cities is a new challenge to humanitarian organisations who are used to assit refugees in camps. But with now half of the refugee population living in cities, there is an urgent need to shift approaches from camp to urban settings.
Given the very limited assistance of aid agencies in cities, refugee-led organisations provide the bulk of the assistance to their own communities. We support those organisations to develop their capacity to organise, plan and advocate for themselves. This includes: technical assistance and training, support in governance, fundraising and communication mapping. We believe self-reliance is key to promote sustainable solutions.
We help the humanitarian community adapt to the challenges of protecting refugees in cities. We use a collective impact strategy to create global connections between NGOs, academics, refugee-led organisations, urban designers, the private sector and donors, to help them share best practices and work together towards shared goals. We believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.See the list of participants
We change top level policies affecting urban refugees through consistent advocacy efforts. We support the advocacy work of our partner NGOs in the field, we organise round-tables with policy makers and we coordinate joint advocacy strategies at the regional and UN levels. By changing one key policy, we can change thousands of lives.
Take a read through our Resource Center and learn more about urban refugee and IDP situations. You will find reports, articles, country snapshots and other key resources. Information sharing is key.Go to the Resource Center
On our Debate Forum, key issues related to urban displacement are discussed in depth by experts, academics, UN staff members and civil society members. Join the conversation!Go to the Debate Forum
Together, we can improve the lives of urban refugees