What is Important to Know
In many cities, refugees, migrants and other minority communities are often the most vulnerable, and face the largest challenges in access to basic services, education and opportunity. This type of exclusion prevents cities from achieving goals of opportunity and prosperity for all citizens.
Approximately 3 million people move into cities every week. In popular entry cities such as New York, Dubai or Brussels, migrants make up a third to one half of the entire population. While some migrants enter a city formally for a specific job or educational opportunity, many people migrating to cities come hoping for a better life than they came from, whether that be due to conflict, poverty, or lack of opportunities.
Migrants and other marginalized groups are disproportionately poor and living in informal settlements. Informal settlements represent easy entry points for recent migrants who lack significant assets, but they often create significant hardships for residents. Slums can lack secure tenure, sustainable water and sanitation infrastructure, electricity, and social services.
Alongside continuing rural to urban migration, migration within country and between countries has also increased dramatically in recent years, due to war and the humanitarian crises that arrive from protracted conflict and repressive regimes.
The UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) mid-2015 estimate found 15.1 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide, the highest level in two decades. More than half of all refugees of concern to UNHCR live in urban areas.
Unfortunately, the significance of migration into cities is often ignored, and when it is recognized it is viewed and a pattern to stop or reverse not encourage. The United Nations found that of its 193 member states 80% had policies in place to reduce rural to urban migration. This number has risen substantially in recent years as migration especially in least developed countries has risen as well.