April 10, 2013

New Report Recommends Government, Donor Agencies Change Supports

More Than Half of all Refugees Now Live in Cities
Urban Refugee Report Cover
CWS launched a new refugee study on April 17, 2013, in New York

More refugees than ever before are resettling in cities, even in the face of uncertainty over their ability to thrive in congested, competitive and often poor communities. To address the problem, global humanitarian and refugee agency CWS will, on April 17, launch a series of recommendations that point the way to new opportunities that assist refugees in urban communities. 

The April 17 launch will take place at 5 p.m. at the Church Center for the United Nations, 777 First Ave. at 44th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017.

Chief among a series of recommendations aimed at governments, funding agencies, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and non-governmental agencies are the need for basic rights protections, including the right to employment, housing, adequate shelter and freedom of travel.

“Adequate protection for refugees in urban areas makes it possible for them to participate more fully in the social and economic life of communities where they settle,” says CWS Immigration and Refugee Program Director Erol Kekic. 

The CWS study, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, focused on the interactions and relationships of refugees with other residents in large cities in Cameroon, Indonesia and Pakistan.  It was prompted by UNHCR estimates that nearly half of all refugees now resettle in cities rather than in rural areas, and the challenges that await them.

There are some 150,000 urban refugees in the cities studied -- and millions more in cities around the world.  It is imperative that host governments be given some guidance on best ways to receive and to assist refugees who may arrive without legal documents and who may be vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation, arrest and detention. 

“Over time, strong social service support vastly increases the ability of refugees to develop strong networks and good relations in their new communities and to access other services necessary for them to thrive.” Kekic points out. 

“This CWS study serves as an important roadmap for governments, agencies and organizations involved with assistance or advocacy for refugees to better assist the growing number of refugees leaving camps and settling in cities.”

For more information about the reception to celebrate the launch of the report contact Beth Oppenheim at boppenheim@churchworldservice.org or call 212-870-2321.