Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience


Working Paper


Kirbyshire, A.
Wilkinson, E.
Le Masson, V.
Batra, P.


Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience




Overseas Development Institute


People displaced by conflict and disasters increasingly end up in urban areas, as opposed to refugee camps. The challenge of mass displacement is global. It requires governments, national and local, to build the resilience of urban systems so they are able to absorb migration flows and transform in response to these pressures, now and in the future. This paper examines all forms of migration: forced and voluntary, domestic and cross-border, and in response to different pressures (particularly disasters and conflict). It focuses on the very large numbers of people moving out of conflict-affected places, across international borders, into urban areas of neighbouring or nearby countries. The paper assesses the impact of mass displacement on the wellbeing of all urban residents, using an urban resilience framework to explore how different parts of the system respond to large influxes of people moving into areas often already suffering from inadequate housing, a lack of basic services and insecurity. Mass displacement adds to these existing challenges and deepens inequalities in urban areas. More research is needed to establish how different parts of the urban system can be strengthened to anticipate, absorb and adapt to changing patterns of migration and displacement. In addition, city and national governments may be failing to take full advantage of the capacities and skills of the new arrivals, and to learn from recent experience to stimulate improvements in urban resilience over the long term, promoting wellbeing for all residents.


Kirbyshire, A., Wilkinson, E., Le Masson, V., & Batra, P. (2017). Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience. In. Overseas Development Institute: London.