The contribution of migration and displacement to urban growth

1: Are there more displaced people live in urban than rural areas? – You’d be forgiven for thinking that today the majority of displaced people live in cities. Nobody really knows whether there are more internally displaced people (IDPs) in urban than rural areas, or how long they stay there. Nor do we know what proportion of people newly displaced each year make their way to the world’s towns and cities.

2: Are urban IDPs more vulnerable than the urban poor? – It is also regularly suggested that urban IDPs face additional challenges specific to their displacement, and examples show that they are indeed at risk of exploitation and extortion. Yet, once in the city, displaced populations join the ranks of the broader urban poor and live in the same marginalized and precarious conditions.

3: Does urban displacement call for more humanitarian assistance? – Cities have attracted migrants and been sanctuaries for those displaced throughout history. Today, however, they are becoming hubs not only of opportunity but also of accumulated risk. This is particularly the case in hazard-prone regions, including parts of Africa and Asia where small and medium-sized cities are expected to experience the highest rates of urban growth in the coming years.

What role can humanitarians play in such situations? It would appear that a much broader and far-reaching response may be needed to reduce poverty and improve urban systems and services.

[Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre]

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