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Press Release

New Global Report: Cities Are Leading Refugee Integration Efforts; Indicate Financial Resources, Representation and Employment Programs as Critical Pieces to Achieving Success

Report from IRC and Citi examines efforts of more than 20 cities spanning four continents to build inclusive communities

Today, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with support from Citi released a major report titled, Urban Refuge: How Cities Are Building Inclusive Communities. The report examines the efforts of more than 20 cities across four continents – from New York to Amman, Kampala to Cox’s Bazaar, Los Angeles to Mogadishu - to integrate refugees and internally displaced persons, and highlights key learnings with the aim of providing cities as well as the private and humanitarian sectors a roadmap on how to address urban displacement and build inclusive communities.

“At a time when nearly 60 percent of refugees live in urban settings, the role of cities in integrating displaced populations is critical now more than ever before,” said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “As dis placed populations seek safety and opportunity in urban areas, cities are having to respond, providing existing services and straining already resource-strapped systems. Despite these constraints, cities across the globe are innovating like never before, thinking through new policies, approaches and programs that serve displaced populations and build truly inclusive communities.”

In its analysis of city-level approaches to support displaced populations and build inclusive communities, the report cites three major takeaways: (1) while cities have shown tremendous leadership so far, they can’t do it alone – support is needed from both the private and humanitarian sectors to ensure cities have the ability to build inclusive communities; (2) although cities must acknowledge the unique experience of displaced populations, they can’t be viewed in a silo but as part of an inclusionary planning approach and; (3) information-sharing between cities is critical, allowing for scaling of ideas that are driving impact.

“As with many other challenges facing the world today, cities are on the front lines of the effort to integrate refugees. But cities cannot do it alone,” said Ed Skyler, Citi's Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs. “The private sector has an important role to play to help cities innovate, support targeted investments and share best practices. Through the Rescuing Futures program with the IRC – part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative – we’ve deployed funding, volunteers and our voice to support displaced individuals in cities, illustrating the vital role public-private partnerships can play in coming up with solutions to difficult challenges.”

The report highlights that many cities are already allocating resources to support displaced populations and bolster integration, and taking additional steps to do more. Of the 23 cities interviewed:

  • Nearly 60 percent have a dedicated budget, office or staff to support displaced populations
  • Nearly 60 percent have a long-term plan around displacement and/or migration
  • Four in five (83 percent) have prioritized partnerships with the international community while 74 percent are working with the private sector

While cities have been allocating existing resources to build communities inclusive of displaced populations, their arrival leads to great demands on existing city services and economies - including health, education, housing, and local job markets - and can worsen existing strains on these systems.

The 23 cities interviewed for this report are hosting over 5 million displaced – over seven percent of the world’s displaced - and while their needs may vary, cities cited the following resource needs to build more inclusive communities:

  • Over half (52 percent) cite access to financial resources as a critical need
  • Nearly one-third (30 percent) cite a need to have representation at both the national and international levels
  • One in four (26 percent) cite a need for employment programs

As cities develop approaches to build more inclusive communities, all cited positive benefits of hosting refugees and IDPs, ranging from the improvement of their city’s culture or the introduction of new skills to the labor market. Specifically,

  • Nearly half (48 percent) of cities cited an expansion of the local economy
  • 43 percent of cities cited increased cultural diversity
  • 40 percent of cities cited an increased workforce

The report also outlines key recommendations for cities and the private and humanitarian sectors. City governments must practice inclusive city planning and ensure they are diversifying their financing resources, expanding to include the private sector, development banks and humanitarian donors. The private sector must make greater efforts to invest in cities and displaced populations while taking a stand and advocating for these communities. Finally, the humanitarian sector needs to bolster its collaboration with city governments and deliver programs that not only respond to emergencies but serve as a resource to solve urban challenges exacerbated by displacement.

To learn more about the report, visit www.rescue.org/cities.  

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.