Survival in the city: youth, displacement and violence in urban settings

Briefing papers
March 2012
Sara Pavanello and Victoria Metcalfe with Ellen Martin

Humanitarian research and policy has been largely silent on the links between youth, displacement and violence in urban environments, and in practice these issues are treated as separate areas of engagement.

This Policy Brief provides initial reflections on the phenomenon of urban violence, its links to urban displacement, particularly displaced youth, and the implications for humanitarian action.

Key messages

  • Youth, displacement and violence in urban environments are treated as separate areas in humanitarian research, policy and practice. Despite being a key driver of vulnerability, urban violence and its humanitarian consequences are not well understood by the humanitarian community.
  • Displaced populations, particularly displaced youth, are often particularly exposed to urban violence. However, their needs and vulnerabilities typically go unaddressed.
  • Tackling the causes of violence in urban settings is a challenge that goes beyond strictly humanitarian concerns to encompass long-term development efforts. While humanitarian action is an important element of the response to urban violence it is inherently limited, and a complementary approach involving development strategies and programmes is required to tackle the root causes of this violence.