top of page
Urban-A logo.png
Urban Displacement, Development and Donor Policies in the Middle East (URBAN3DP)


Urban-A is part of the advisory board of an ongoing research project at Chr. Michelsens Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway, titled "Urban Displacement, Development and Donor Policies in the Middle East". The project is a collaboration between CMI, the Middle East Research institute (MERI), Institute Francais du Proche-Orient, Koc University Istanbul, American University of Beirut (AUB), and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). It is funded by the EU, and will run from 2019 - 2022.

The project is lead by Are John Knudsen and Sarah Tobin.

Contributors and advisory board members are Tine Gade (Nupi), Dlawer Ala'Aldeen (MERI), Nasser Yassin (AUB), Ahmet Içduygu (Koch U), Jeff Crisp (Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford), and Synne Bergby (Urban-A)

The Middle East has one of the world's highest urbanization levels, the greatest socio-economic inequality and is a premier displacement region. This project study refugees and IDPs in fragile Middle East host states to provide a comprehensive information base essential for designing humanitarian and development policies that can serve both the displaced and host communities.

While cities offer economic opportunities, employment and services, displacement crises often turn protracted and strain local infrastructure, service provision and host communities. These features also apply to the Syrian refugee population. Aiding large number of urban displaced is therefore a major challenge to humanitarian policy. Unable to the address the root causes of displacement, the international community is searching for better polices to address displacement in fragile host countries. 

To this end, there has been a transition from person-centric (rights-based) towards site-centric (place-based) approaches integrated in a comprehensive developmental approach to urban displacement. This project seeks to add to these efforts by investigating the key elements needed for instituting an area-based urban response for Middle East refugees and IDPs. Better data of this kind is essential for formulating targeted and hence effective aid strategies, and a pre-condition for well-coordinated policies at different levels. In particular, the data will make it possible to formulate are-based policy measures at different levels that can support settlement in cities and towns and reduce vulnerabilities.

Read more about the project here.

The official kick-of of the project was held in Bergen 15-16 March 2019, followed by a roundtable 15 March at CMI:

Sanctuary in the City? Assisting Urban Refugees in 21st Century

This panel discussed new ways to assist the urban displaced in the 21st century. How can humanitarian policies be re-designed to accommodate refugees in urban areas? Can refugees find "sanctuary in the city"? How can host countries and donors assist refugees living among the urban poor in inner-city slums?


Photo: Bergen Global - Martin Instebø Jamne

Panellists, from top left, Jeff Crisp (Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford), Dlawer Ala'Aldeen (Middle East Research Institute), Nasser Yassin (Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut), and Synne Bergby (Urban-A). 

bottom of page