By Karen Jacobsen and Loren B. Landau. Forced Migration Review. May 2005. (Vol. 23.)
UNHCR is currently revising the Policy on Refugees in Urban Areas which it introduced in 1997. While this policy represented a step towards protecting the rights of urban refugees, it has been difficult to implement for technical, logistical and political reasons. Human Rights Watch has criticized the policy for its almost exclusive focus on assistance and for ignoring the very real protection needs of refugees in urban areas. Although UNHCR has recognized the inadequacy of the policy, it continues to struggle to develop a strategy that is legally sound, politically acceptable and financially sustainable. We believe that the existing policy does not adequately address the challenges and opportunities facing refugees in the world’s cities. An effective urban refugee policy – as with any refugee policy – should promote refugee rights and livelihoods without compromising the well-being of those around them. Based on a review of research on urban refugees, the following recommendations could help develop such a policy.
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