Urban displacement


Around the world, most internally displaced people find refuge not inside displacement camps, but in host communities, often in cities. Evidence is scarce regarding their exact numbers, locations, needs and resources. Understanding urban displacement better is key to designing more effective measures to prevent future displacement, and more sustainable solutions including local integration in urban communities.

Urban centres around the world have become destinations for millions of internally displaced people seeking short-, medium- or long-term refuge. Although their exact number is unknown, evidence is rising of the specific opportunities cities can offer them for temporary support or durable solutions. So is evidence of the particular risks cities present, including urban violence, tenure insecurity and the risk of onward displacement.

IDMC’s research has shown that cities can provide better access to infrastructure, services and income-generating opportunities for IDPs than displacement camps or rural areas, as seen in Liaanmo (Ethiopia) or Mogadishu (Somalia). But IDPs can also find themselves living in under-serviced informal settlements, struggling to adapt to urban life or find work in cities, as seen in the outskirts of Bogotá (Colombia) or in Kabul (Afghanistan). People displaced from rural areas, including indigenous communities or pastoralists, can find the transition particularly difficult.

Well-informed urban planning strategies can help prevent, prepare for and respond to current and future displacement linked with conflict, violence, disasters or climate change. This research seeks to better understand the scale, nature, and dynamics of urban internal displacement across the world from the perspective of both internally displaced people and that of the cities they flee to.


Urban displacement: main impacts on IDPs

Urban displacement: main impacts on IDPs