Unlike a camp, cities allow refugees to live autonomously, make money and build a better future. But they also present dangers. Refugees may be vulnerable to exploitation, arrest or detention, and can be forced to compete with the poorest local workers for the worst jobs.
At UNHCR, we work to maximise the skills, productivity and experience that displaced populations bring to urban areas, striving to help those who have lost so much to find the safety and security they deserve. This, in turn, helps to stimulate economic growth and development within host communities, while enhancing universal access to human rights.
In the past, many refugees living in cities were young men with the skills and savvy to survive on their own.
Today, we are seeing increasing numbers of women, who may have been raped or abused before escaping their countries, as well as children and older people who all need special help.
In large and anonymous cities, it can be a challenge to ensure that the displaced find and receive the vital support they need.
We believe that camps should be the exception and only a temporary measure in response to forced displacement.