Caroline Wanjiku Kihato
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Loren B. Landau
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Visibilising suffering or stealth humanitarianism?
The perils of promoting durable protection in cities of the south
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This chapter draws our attention to the complexities of protecting refugees and their rights within urban environments. As refugee crises become increasingly urbanised, protecting refugees becomes more complex. Unlike camp settings, urban environments are spatially fragmented and subject to various financial and political changes that are linked to, yet distinct from, those at the scale of the nation state. In cities in the Global South where much of urban displacement takes place, protecting refugees can be highly varied and subject to the whims of local communities and power brokers. Here, refugees share the same kinds of socio-economic struggles as the urban poor. Therefore, privileging one over the other can cause tensions and resentments among the local communities. The authors note that in such a condition, insisting on formulaic, rights-based approaches may be counter-productive. Rather, humanitarian organisations may benefit from working stealthily with local organisations, including state institutions, to insert protections for refugees into local by-laws. This may not be the model donors envision when funding humanitarian responses, but in an increasingly urban and dynamic world, there is a need to abandon earlier methods of protection and adopt tactics that tap into the needs and interests of local communities.

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Global conversations on refuge


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