WRD 2018: Fact #3


Myth: Most refugees live in camps.

Fact: More than 65% of refugees live in urban areas.

The expansive refugee camps around the world, from Kakuma in Kenya to Zaatari in Jordan, have become hallmarks for the global migration and refugee crises that have displaced over 65 million people around the world. Images of sprawling refugee camps are frequently pictured in media outlets.

However, more than 60% of the current refugee population live in urban areas, presenting a new set of challenges to what scholars describe as unprepared humanitarian organizations unequipped to deal with urban challenges. The European Commission estimated that over 90% of Syrian refugees in Turkey lived outside traditional camps. While Ferris and Krause-Vilmar offer encouraging evidence of humanitarian organizations adopting an “urban lens” to revisit their strategies, challenges remain. The authors point out that, when tackling the needs of urban refugees, it can be difficult to distinguish between humanitarian aid and development assistance. Moreover, aid provision in urban areas is problematized by a variety of factors. Brandt and Earle argue that urban refugees are highly mobile, often forced to move due to abusive landlords or the depletion of their savings. If refugees do not register with a UN agency, they risk becoming “invisible” to humanitarian organizations – thus, they would not be eligible for aid nor would they receive information about services. The humanitarian sector is trying to consult local officials and mayors and integrate their feedback into aid programming.

NaTakallam works with displaced persons in both urban areas and refugee camps – which is made possible because of how we leverage technology.




Krause-Vilmar, Jina. “Dawn in the City: Guidance for Achieving Urban Refugee Self-Reliance.” New York: Women’s Refugee Commission, October 2011. https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/resources/document/782-dawn-in-the-city-guidance-for-achieving-self-reliance-for-urban-refugees

Brandt, Jessica and Lucy Earle. “THE GLOBAL COMPACT FOR REFUGEES.” The Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy at Brookings, January 2018, 10. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-global-compact-for-refugees/

Published by