8 Reasons Place Should Matter to Humanitarians

Salina, S.
Publication language
Date published
24 Jan 2017
Project for Public Spaces
Forced displacement and migration, Urban

The majority of the world’s displaced (over 60% of refugees and 80% of internally displaced persons) now live in urban areas, while the humanitarian system has largely been designed to serve people in camp or rural settings. Nowhere is this dichotomy more apparent than in the Syria region, where humanitarians have been forced to adapt their programs since the start of the conflict to meet the needs of the 90% of Syrian refugees that now reside in towns or cities instead of camps. This means an increased reliance on cash assistance, a focus on both refugees and the vulnerabilities of their host communities, and more coordination with local municipalities.

While this shift to better aid for the urban displaced is welcomed and continuously championed by coalitions such as the Global Alliance for Urban Crises, we can—and should—do more to think creatively on how to address the needs of both host and displaced populations, and that includes leveraging the potential of place and public space in urban humanitarianism.