Mixed migration and cities: Urban frontlines for displacement and mobility

About the Mixed Migration Review 2020

In an increasingly urbanized world, cities experience numerous types of human mobility, both forced and voluntary. Cities attract internal and international migrants and offer refuge to a majority of today’s forcibly displaced. Urban centers can provide refugees and migrants with important opportunities, while also exposing them to a variety of risks.

What are the experiences of refugees and migrants in different urban centers around the world? Which risks and opportunities do cities present to refugees and migrants, and vice-versa? To what extent do cities offer protection to refugees and migrants? How will refugees and migrants in cities be affected by climate vulnerabilities? How do different global and regional processes influence urban approaches to mobility, and what can we learn from how cities govern migration issues compared to national migration polices? What are existing data gaps regarding mobile populations in cities? And what is the relation between cities, migration and COVID-19?

The overarching focus of the Mixed Migration Review (MMR) 2020 is urban migration. This year’s edition offers updates on global mixed migration trends and policy developments while examining the role of cities in human mobility. Through essays, mini-case studies (‘urban spotlights’), first-hand accounts from refugees and migrants themselves (‘urban voices’) and interviews with leading experts and thought leaders the MMR2020 offers a detailed analysis of mixed migration and cities.

Video messages from contributors and partners around the Mixed Migration Review 2020


Virtual launch of the Mixed Migration Review 2020

The launch of the Mixed Migration Review 2020 took place in the form of a panel debate bringing together migration experts from different fields. It focused on three selected aspects of the report: cities of risks, cities of opportunities and national vs. local migration policies. View the agenda here.

Protection and risks in cities -risky cities, mean streets?

Refugees and migrants in urban settings often face greater dangers, including crime, discrimination, and harassment, than other residents, and yet they frequently stand accused of bringing criminality to their cities of destination. What are potential causes for this heightened vulnerability?Do refugees and migrants also pose a risk to cities? What can governments, civil society actors and urban residents do better or differently to mitigate threats and increase protection; can we identify good practices to learn from?

Cities of opportunities -arrival cities enabling local integration and boosting economic development?

Generally, it is citiesrather than national governments that are the first to respond to the needs and aspirations of refugees and migrants.Building inclusive urban destinations not only improves individuals’ ability to establish livelihoods, but also promotes wider community cohesion and sustainable urban development. How to create a win-win situation, offering the best economic opportunities and access to services to refugees and migrants in cities and boostlocal economic development through urban migration? How can cities work together, across borders, to contribute to smarter, more productive and humane migration policies?

National versus local migration policies -pragmatic rebellion?

In many countries, there can be contested space between national and city-level approaches to migration. Cities seeking practical solutions may defy national migration and refugee policies, (such as in the case of ‘sanctuary cities’), orin some cases have a tougher stance on migration than national policy.Whether for ethical, practical or political reasons, what can we learn from some city’s positive and progressive approaches to mixed migration? What did the Covid-19 pandemic tell us about the importance of urban migration responses? Should cities be given a greater voice in the design of effective migration and refugee policies at the national, regional, and global levels?