01 February 2018

UnSettlement: Urban displacement in the 21st Century

UnSettlement: Urban displacement in the 21st Century

The increasingly long-term and intractable nature of displacement, particularly for people in low and middle-income countries, means that camp settings are not a viable option in the long term.

In the 21st century urban centres have increasingly become destinations for internally displaced people. This is not a new phenomenon, but its real scale at regional and global levels is not known. We also know little about the extent to which cities provide safe havens for those internally displaced and the degree to which they are able to establish new urban lives. And we have only limited insights into how displacement shapes urban systems as well as the way displacement risk is generated within cities.

Our new thematic series seeks to fill the information gap by exploring 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.




Research agenda and call for partners

Research agenda and call for partners

We are embarking on a programme of research that will involve partnerships with a wide range of experts and institutions. For this, we invite those interested to join our effort.

Download research agenda and call for partners (PDF, 0.6 MB)


City of challenge and opportunity - Employment and livelihoods for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, Borno State (Nigeria)

City of challenge and opportunity

Almost 300,000 internally displaced people live in Maiduguri, Nigeria, a country where displacement is driven by a number of factors including insecurity – mainly due to Boko Haram - weak governance and climate change. The large-scale influx of IDPs in urban centres challenges existing social dynamics as competition for scarce jobs and resources increases, however at the same time it can create socioeconomics gains as IDPs bring skills, resources and other assets that benefit cities. The first case study of the thematic series explores the challenges and opportunities for IDPs in Maiduguri and their participation in the city’s economy.

Download the case study (PDF, 0.4 MB)


City of flight: new and secondary displacements in Mogadishu, Somalia 

Urban displacement in Mogadishu









Somalia experienced a sharp increase in new displacements associated with both conflict and disasters in 2017 and the first half of 2018. Many of those displaced have moved from rural areas to the country’s main cities in search of shelter, protection and humanitarian assistance. Mogadishu has been at the centre of the recent displacement crisis. Within the city, forced evictions have triggered secondary displacement, and data shows that the vast majority of those evicted had already been displaced before. Displacement is clearly shaping Somalia’s urban landscape and contributing to its urbanisation rate, which is one of the highest in the world.

This is the second case study in our thematic series “Unsettlement: urban displacement in the 21st century”. It discusses the latest developments in terms of rural to urban displacement in Somalia and the ongoing situation in the capital. By examining the drivers and patterns of urban displacement, it aims to contribute to broader discussions on the nature of the phenomenon, increase knowledge and inform programming and policymaking to address and reduce it.     

Download the case study (PDF, 2.0MB)