Sanctuary in the city? Urban displacement and vulnerability - Final report

Research reports and studies
June 2013
Simone Haysom

While a number of studies in recent years have sought to analyse urban livelihoods and governance, little is known about how displaced people negotiate their way in the urban environment, their relationships with host communities and governance institutions and their specific vulnerabilities as compared with other urban residents.

This report collates the main findings of a two-year research project called ‘Sanctuary in the City’, which sought to answer these questions through seven in-depth case studies in urban centres - Nairobi, Kenya; Yei, South Sudan; Damascus, Syria; Amman, Jordan; Kabul, Afghanistan; the Gaza strip; and Peshawar, Pakistan.

This report presents a rich but troubling picture of how the displaced navigate the urban environment and the policy and operational challenges that urban displacement poses. The implications call for a change in approach towards urban displacement.

The studies have shown how, in numerous cities, the challenges facing the displaced derive from their environment, which humanitarian actors cannot control. The findings also underscore how much larger the role of the host state itself will have to be in displacement responses with a role for the international community to ensure that the needs of people fleeing conflict and disaster who have settled in urban areas are addressed.