Urban refugees

Photo: Graeme Rodgers

Urban refugees

Urban centers throughout the world are increasingly home to refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers. As forcibly displaced persons enter a city, they take a courageous step towards reorienting their lives, recalibrating their family and community relationships and redefining their futures.

Often, the ability of urban refugees to access protection, shelter, livelihoods, health care and education depends on broader networks and relationships, including with local citizens in the city of asylum.

Our impact

Urban Returnee Research Report

This report from December 2016 explores voluntary returns and urbanization within town and small city contexts, drawing on findings from household surveys and interviews with returnees in Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda. In considering these two case studies alongside a review of policies related to urban refugees and voluntary repatriation, CWS identifies trends and lessons that could be applied more broadly in anticipation of an increased urban character of return and reintegration. Research was conducted with support from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), and in partnership with Kigali Independent University (ULK) in Rwanda. Read here the full report, executive summary, rapport sommaire en français, and recommended indicators for use in monitoring urban returns and reintegration.

Photo: Graeme Rodgers

Mapping of Urban Refugees Access to Essential Services in Rwanda

In November 2015, Church World Service (CWS) and Young Women’s Christian Association of Rwanda (YWCA Rwanda), in collaboration with UNHCR, conducted a mapping study of urban refugees’ access to essential services in Kigali and Huye. The report from this study draws on survey responses from 900 refugee households and 140 community service providers in Kigali and Huye, and identifies opportunities to improve access to livelihoods and other essential services through stronger links between urban refugees and Rwandan service providers. Click here to read the full report.

Photo: Bigstock Images/ Black Sheep Media

Livelihoods in the urban context

With support from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Populations Refugees and Migration, in 2015 CWS conducted a pilot project to improve self-reliance among urban refugees in Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. CWS provided case management and individualized assistance to urban refugees and vulnerable citizens in these three countries. Coupled with outreach to employers, this has assisted skilled urban refugees to connect with labor market and business opportunities, and has encouraged stronger relations between urban refugees and their host communities. Download the full report here.

Photo: Paul Jeffrey

Urban Refugee – Host Community Relations

In 2012, CWS conducted an in-depth analysis of the relationships between urban refugees and host communities in Cameroon, Indonesia and Pakistan, in order to identify new opportunities for assisting urban refugees that build on the relationships that they establish with host communities. Drawing on survey responses from more than 1,200 refugee households, as well as in-depth interviews and focus groups with both refugee and host community institutions, the study found that urban refugees' lives tend to improve over time and that these improvements are associated with more frequent and positive interactions with their hosts. It also reaffirmed the importance of strengthening refugees' rights and improving community infrastructure, employment opportunities and social services in order to improve the lives of all urban residents, both refugees and nationals alike. Read the executive summary or the full report.

Photo: Lisa Hayes/CWS