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Urban Crises

The humanitarian landscape is changing. The world is urbanising rapidly and natural disasters and displacement crises will increasingly occur in urban settings. The traditional image of a refugee has changed, as now more than 60 percent of the world’s refugees live not in camps but in towns and cities across the globe. Refugees in urban areas face distinct challenges. This creates opportunities to adapt the way we work and deliver more than ‘aid as usual’.

Our goals

If we do not find innovative solutions to assist the majority of the world's displaced, and the host communities in which they live, they will struggle to improve their lives. The International Rescue Committee is finding new and innovative ways to support the urban displaced in rebuilding their lives.
  • Ensure global policy and practice meet the needs of populations impacted by humanitarian crises in urban settings

    • Working with policy, decision makers and other important stakeholders to raise awareness so that they better understand the dynamics of working in cities and towns, as well as how to adapt responses 
    • Advocating and influencing to ensure global policy and operational commitments are in place to do this effectively. One key mechanism to achieve this is through the Global Alliance for Urban Crises which IRC currently co-convenes
  • Generate learning and promoting best practices

    • Generating evidence and best-practices in our programme and sharing this with the wider community to drive forward improved responses on the ground
    • Leading and contributing to partnerships to exchange learning and knowledge, as well as to encourage global joint working
  • Develop tools and approaches for the sector

    • Working with partners to develop innovative programming models, tools and approaches to improve the way we work to best support the displaced and communities impacted by crisis   
    • Working to build the capacity of local networks - including local authorities

Our impact


police officers in Beirut, Lebanon were trained by the IRC in 2014 on child protection.

Learn more about the role of the IRC's role in improving urban crisis response

Humanitarian Action in an Urban World

diverse stakeholders work with the IRC in the Global Alliance for Urban Crises.

The IRC is a co-convener of this new, global initiative.

Global Alliance for Urban Crises
Around 60%

of the world's refugees currently live in urban contexts.

Find out more about how the IRC advocates for more support to affected cities

Cities on the frontline: Humanitarian action in urban areas affected by conflict

News and features

Related reports & resources