Sanctuary in the City? Urban Displacement and Vulnerability

[3 July 2013] – This report by the Humanitarian Policy Group of the UK's Overseas Development Institute examines urban displacement and vulnerability, presenting a rich but troubling picture of how the displaced navigate the urban environment and the policy and operational challenges that urban displacement poses.

It defines "displacement" broadly and incorporates those moving into slums due to economic and environmental stress. It highlights challenges that are felt by all slum dwellers, such as hostile local government, poor services, lack of tenure security, justice and protection issues, and inadequate economic opportunities.

The report collates the main findings of a two-year research project called ‘Sanctuary in the City’, which explored the phenomenon of displacement in the urban environment and the implications and challenges it poses for humanitarian action.

Through field research in eight urban centres in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, the 'Sanctuary in the City' project considered the reality of life for displaced people, investigates the policy and operational challenges that confront national and inter-national stakeholders when responding to the needs of urban IDPs and refugees, and offers recommendations for strengthening support to these groups.

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Both UNHCR and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimate that half of the refugee and IDP population are in urban areas (IFRC, 2012) Photo: United Nations

“Displaced populations will largely be joining the ranks of the urban poor ... They will be participating in urban economies, renting and buying urban housing and land, and in one way or another trying to make use of urban opportunities and services.”
--Sanctuary in the City Report


Related Items

ODI's Sanctuary in the City project

CIVIS Note The Urbanisation of Displaced People





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ODI-Report.pdf323.71 KB / pdf