Urban refugee

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An urban refugee is a refugee who decided or was obliged to settle in an urban area rather than in a refugee camp in the country or territory where the person fled to. More than 60% of the world's refugee population and 80% of internally displaced persons (IDP) under UNHCR mandate live in urban environments.[1] In 2009, their number was around 5.5 million people. "Urban refugee" is not a recognized legal term in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. However, the UNHCR has adopted a 'Policy on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas' in 2009.[2]

Urban refugees are among the most vulnerable groups in low income countries. According to UNHCR, the urban refugee population worldwide is very diverse, comprising a large number of women, children, and older people who have particular protection challenges. The urban refugee population face specific protecting needs attendant to urban environments: they may lack access to services, health, education and are often confronted to xenophobic attitudes in their country of asylum.

The overwhelming majority of refugees living in urban areas are to be found in the poorest and more conflict-affected regions of the world. Africa and Asia concentrate the highest number of urban refugee populations. Some war-affected countries host a huge number of both urban internally displaced people and refugees in capital cities (such as Kampala or Khartoum). Urban displaced people also live in the main cities of their country of origin: after protracted exile, many returnees prefer settling back as IDPs in cities and towns of their own country upon return.

Since around 2017, the UNHCR prioritizes urban refugees for resettlement over those refugees living in refugee camps. In Kenya, for example, only refugees living in Nairobi are submitted for resettlement places, and not those refugees living in the refugee camp site of Kakuma or Dadaab. However, Kenya's national refugee policy requires all refugees to live in camps, though this requirement is not strongly enforced.[3]

Reasons for living in urban areas[edit]

Reasons for living in urban settings rather than in refugee camps could be specific medical care needs that can't be provided for in camps, poor and uncertain conditions in camps,[4] or higher than average educational achievements and aspirations, as camps don't provide many higher education opportunities. There is insufficient physical and material security in some camps. Especially certain groups of refugees, such as LGBTI refugees and women at high risk of gender-based violence, cannot be sufficiently protected from other refugees in the camps.[5] Or it could simply be the fact that the state or territory where refugees fled to does not run refugee camps (e.g. Syria or Egypt). Some refugees leave camps in search of better economic opportunities in urban centres and to avoid being dependent on aid rations.[6] Some even move back and forth between urban centres and refugee camps to get the best of both.

A disadvantage is that the UNHCR and other aid agencies cannot legally protect and support refugees dispersed in urban settings as much as in camps.

Notable urban refugee settlements[edit]

Urban refugees by country and population size[edit]

Populations of UNHCR refugees in urban areas between 2014 and 2006
Country Urban area 2014 [12] 2013 [13] 2012 [14] 2011 [15] 2010 [16] 2009 [17] 2008 [18] 2007 [19] 2006 [20]
Angola Luanda 12,300 12,323 11,315 11,096 15,895 14,990 2,638
Argentina Buenos Aires 4,310 4,025
Armenia Yerevan 16,818 12,729 7,385 3,679 4,087 1,682 1,861 1,798 51,330
Azerbaijan Baku 203,906 195,824 189,966 1,793 3,981 2,170 186,909 166,489 164,650
Brazil Rio de Janeiro 1,795 1,899 2,262 2,106 2,103
Brazil Sao Paulo 5,527 3,289 2,530 1,998 1,795
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou 1,597 1,734 1,211 1,065 1,058 1,161 1,133 1,267
Burundi Bujumbura 22,789 22,662 21,901 23,485 21,253 12,227 9,307 12,773 9,986
Congo Brazzaville 12,293 8,089 7,019 6,547 8,549 8,703 7,185 8,630 3,493
Côte d'Ivoire Abidjan 1,585 1,810 1,699 4,546 3,738 3,583 3,585 483,931 485,466
Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa 2,325 10,381 10,447 15,840 15,838 15,816 25,571 25,605 28,451
Egypt Alexandria 28,505 29,785 3,514
Egypt Cairo 51,126 42,448 15,546 101,405 98,602 107,913 112,605 112,515 104,467
Egypt Giza 16,976 14,648 5,101 6,002 5,131
Ethiopia Addis Ababa 6,042 4,813 4,346 2,640 2,822 1,802 1,526 1,014
Gabon Libreville 1,394 2,167 2,308 5,153 4,527 4,338 4,332 4,089 3,939
Ghana Accra 2,797 2,560 3,956 4,344 1,040 740 1,283 2,151 5,865
India Delhi 30,939 26,396 22,050 20,484 18,569 17,881 15,042 13,835 12,241
Indonesia Jakarta 1,961 1,520 1,268 2,567
Iraq Babylon 16,986 36,144 48,092 56,002 63,086
Iraq Baghdad 11,746 263,485 480,336 489,496 428,647 707,235 10,575 13,020 14,381
Thailand Bangkok 8,598 4,112 2,423 2,072 6,702 6,944 6,466 6,424 6,481
Turkey Ankara 1,382 2,352
Uganda Kampala 72,019 43,379 69,476 42,500 37,820 26,994 18,377 4,992 4,646
Syria Damascus 456,225 24,461 52,240 80,305 49,647
Senegal Dakar 4,313 3,849 3,691 3,819 2,912 3,570 3,595 3,456 3,595
Libya Tripoli 36,868 32,169 13,617 13,025 11,117 12,322 4,754
Macedonia Skopje 1,290 1,468 1,610 1,672 2,310 1,474 1,621 1,701 1,790
Korea Seoul 3,430 2,373 1,762 1,364 1,243 1,220
Morocco Rabat 1,351 1,072 1,091 1,235 1,457
Mexico Mexico City 1,395 1,567 1,331 1,073 1,665 2,578
Sierra Leone Kenema 2,027 1,947 2,256 1,622 1,988 2,303
Sudan Kassala 4,614 4,867 4,906 4,910 4,789 6,000 6,000
South Sudan Juba 6,071 5,819 5,255
Turkey Istanbul 13,784 5,674 2,995 2,979 2,039 1,737 2,805 2,772 2,305
Pakistan Islamabad 34,408 35,227 34,316 35,567 36,787 32,156 32,940 35,041
Somalia Hargeisa 8,942 9,224 6,694 3,741 2,563 1,546
Zimbabwe Harare 1,198 15,265 1,099 1,040 1,054 1,222 1,370
Sierra Leone Freetown 1,824 2,224 2,234 1,881 1,686 2,821
Afghanistan Kabul 60,881 55,491 130,761 147,037 133,426 13,470 38,740 30,670 34,517
Niger Niamey 5,258 8,026 7,038
Kenya Nairobi 51,270 50,400 53,373 52,472 46,607 46,316 36,515 35,083 35,007
Gabon Moanda 1,078 1,467 1,506 1,562 1,660 1,551
Mozambique Maputo 2,368 2,367 2,380 2,371 1,693 1,530 1,524 1,516 1,297
Togo Lomé 2,530 1,802 6,588 3,206 660 622 1,582 1,460 1,770
Nigeria Lagos 964 1,707 3,097 5,114 5,301 4,975 4,385 3,492 4,400
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 190,621 260,552 101,836 97,618 92,857 76,419 45,998 39,511 46,356
Rwanda Kigali 2,320 2,051 1,933 2,061 2,060 1,962 2,413 3,324 6,775
Sudan Khartoum 72,017 36,260 31,969 10,661 9,782 31,325 18,241 911,664
Venezuela Caracas 1,846 1,633 1,435 1,148
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200 7,200
Yemen Aden 50,092 50,981 67,710 140,532 23,596 13,932 13,834 14,134 13,102
Yemen 'Amran 71,548 41,918 39,780 40,452 37,387 30,000
Yemen Sana'a 92,741 87,378 82,369 77,156 51,038 46,853 24,427 23,454 21,136
Yemen Mukalla 9,306 8,810 8,662 8,107 5,757 2,646 2,646 2,646 692

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/urban-refugees.html
  2. ^ http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ab8e7f72.html
  3. ^ Muindi, Kanyiva; Mberu, Blessing; Sverdlik, Alice (June 2019). "Dismantling barriers to health and wellbeing for Nairobi's refugees". IIED Briefing Papers: 4.
  4. ^ Hadj-Hamdi, Elian; Lunde, Kelly Lynn (14 January 2016). "In Dunkirk refugee camp, a life of muddy uncertainty". Al Jazeera.
  5. ^ http://www.fmreview.org/sites/fmr/files/FMRdownloads/en/resettlement.pdf%7C[permanent dead link] page 35
  6. ^ "Why most refugees do not live in camps". The Economist. 2018-06-19. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  7. ^ http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR27/50.pdf
  8. ^ United States Department of State
  9. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iraqi-refugees-in-syria-feel-new-strains-of-war/2013/04/09/4f5cd784-9ee8-11e2-a941-a19bce7af755_story.html
  10. ^ Walnycki, Anna (March 2019). "Refugees in cities: grassroots researchers shed light on basic needs". IIED Briefing Papers: 4.
  11. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/bleak-outlook-nepal-urban-refugees-151123110438884.html
  12. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/statisticalyearbook/2014-annex-tables.zip
  13. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2013/annex_tables.zip
  14. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2012/2012_Statistical_Yearbook_annex_tables_v1.zip
  15. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2011/2011_Statistical_Yearbook_annex_tables_v1.zip
  16. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2010/2011-SYB10-annex-tables.zip
  17. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2009/2009-Statistical-Yearbook-Annex-Tables.zip
  18. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2008/08-TPOC-TB_v5_external_PW.zip
  19. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2007/annextables.zip
  20. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/static/statistical_yearbook/2006/annextables.zip

External links[edit]