Meeting humanitarian challenges in urban areas
Researcher(s): Roger Zetter
The changing location of refugee and IDP displacement from rural areas and camps to urban areas, where the majority now live, and the rise of crises in urban settings – notably large-scale urban violence which is an important driver of intra-urban displacement – constitute increasingly significant policy and programme challenges for humanitarian actors.
These humanitarian needs are closely linked to the wider developmental challenges which rapid urbanisation presents. The majority of the world’s population now live in urban areas but the inability to plan and manage rapid urban growth in the context of economic and social development over recent decades constitutes a failure of development and governance which is increasingly manifest as a humanitarian challenge through large-scale disasters.
Assessing vulnerability, targeting, and protection of groups affected by humanitarian crises in order to meet their material needs and safety, are major challenges for humanitarian actors in urban areas. This is because potential beneficiaries are sometimes highly mobile, fragmented, often inaccessible and unwilling to be identified and frequently integrated into existing slums and settlements scattered across the city.
Building on a consultancy for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a new phase of research work will specifically examine the evolving settlement patterns and the protection needs of displaced people by undertaking a detailed comparative analysis of several contexts (tbc) and by analysing the relationship between forced migration to urban areas and humanitarian intervention to suggest improved modalities for protection.
Activities and impacts
Professor Roger Zetter has been the lead consultant to the IASC Working Group on Managing the Humanitarian Challenge in Urban Areas from 2009 until February 2012. He also delivered lectures at a number of conferences and events including:
- Keynote Lecture on ‘Urban disasters: shelters and settlements’ for inception of a new MSc course in Disaster Management in Copenhagen, November 2011
- Wilton Park Conference, November 2010
- IASC Nairobi, November 2010
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), September 2010
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 2010
Zetter, R. [forthcoming 2012] 'Protection of the displaced in urban areas', Forced Migration Policy Brief, Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
Zetter, R. and Deikun, G. (2011) ‘A new strategy for meeting humanitarian challenges in urban areas’ Forced Migration Review 38, pp 48-50
Zetter, R. (2011) ‘Shelter and Settlement for Forcibly Displaced People’, Chapter 24 in International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, ed. Smith, S., Oxford, Elsevier
Zetter, R. and Deikun, G. (2010) ‘Meeting humanitarian challenges in urban areas’, in Adapting to urban displacement FMR 34, pp 5-8
Zetter, R. and Boano, C. (2010) ‘Planned evacuations and the right to shelter during displacement’, Ch. 5 pps.165-206 in Kälin, W., Williams, R.C., Koser, K., and Solomon, A. (eds) 'Incorporating the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement into Domestic Law: Issues and Challenges', Washington, Brookings-Bern and the American Society of International Law, Studies in Transnational Legal Policy No. 41
Zetter, R. and Boano, C. (2009) ‘Space and place after natural disasters and forced displacement’, Chapter 11, pp. 206-230 in Lizarralde, G., Davidson, C. and Johnson, C. (eds.) Rebuilding after disasters: from emergency to sustainability, London, Taylor and Francis
Zetter, R. and Boano, C. (2009) ‘Planned evacuations and shelter during displacement’, Chapter 6 in IDP Legislators’ Manual commissioned by the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, Kalin, W. and Koser, K. (eds.)