Working with IDPs' Realities in an Urban World: Recommendations to the UN High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service

Working with IDPs’ Realities in an Urban World: Recommendations to the UN High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement

Related Topics: Urban, IDP policy

While it is widely repeated that a majority of IDPs across the world have relocated to towns and cities, the implications of the urban dimension – where IDPs are living, amongst whom, and within whose local jurisdiction – of displacement for policy and practice are rarely examined or developed. More than simply context, urban systems should be seen as active potential contributors to IDP protection, well-being, self-reliance and integration.

A proactive urban response to displacement is required. Instead of trying to prevent movements to towns and cities, we should be aiming for a world without long-term camps, where institutions, local authorities, service providers, and society in general in urban areas are able to provide an enabling environment that allows displaced people to contribute positively to the economic and social dimensions of city life, as urban citizens and rights-holders. As such, urban displacement requires a complete rethinking of how governments (local and national) and humanitarian and development actors prepare for and respond to displacement.


Street scene near Erbil Citadel, Erbil Centre, where refugees, IDPs and host community meet daily. Picture taken from the publication “Displacement as challenge and opportunity | Urban profile: Refugees, internally displaced persons and host community. Erbil Governorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (May 2016)“. Credit: freelance photographer F. Hindi


This submission, jointly developed by Dr. Isis Nuñez Ferrera from JIPS, Lucy Earle from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and Dyfed Aubrey and Stephanie Loose from UN-Habitat, includes four key messages, each underpinned by key recommendations and the need for better and actionable data:

  1. We must return the focus to the lived experiences of urban IDPs, providing an enabling urban environment for IDPs to flourish as citizens. This means identifying and removing the barriers that prevent them from benefiting and contributing to the social, political, economic and cultural life of towns and cities.
  2. We must support and work with local governments and city leaders to recognise IDPs as rights-holding urban citizens, build their capacity to listen and respond to IDP needs, and provide concrete incentives that leverage the benefits for IDPs, host communities and the city as a whole that can result from displacement.
  3. We must work with urban systems and institutions so that cities function in support of a dignified life and solutions for the internally displaced. This will require integrating spatial and sectoral approaches, and positioning the constellation of actors that run towns and cities as responders to and managers of displacement.
  4. We must take active steps to ensure complementarity between the actions of humanitarian and development actors, city authorities and services providers. This means setting collective outcomes, and aligning development agendas and associated resources in support of durable solutions and impacts at scale for IDPs.


➡️ Read the full submission, and also check out JIPS’ flagship submission to the High-Level Panel on the transformative potential of data in internal displacement situations.

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