The influx of refugees into countries and cities is currently an emerging global issue that needs to be tackled not only by bordering countries, but also by the global communities. Doubled over the past two decades, by January 2017, there are more than 67.7 million of people of concern to UNHCR around the world which include refugees, stateless persons, returnees, and IDPs affected by conflict – making one in every 113 people worldwide forcibly displaced (UNHCR, 2018). Meanwhile, cities are shaped by migration. Yet, many cities in Southeast Asia, like perhaps in other parts of the world, are not well-equipped to welcome an increased influx of migrants resulted from forced migration outside of the country or region. Around the world, some 60% of the total 14.4 million refugees and 80% of the 38 million IDPs are thought to live in urban areas as a result of conflict and other drivers. About half of refugees in 2016 are below 18 years old. As many as 3.5 million school-age children refugees are not in school.
Integrating migration concerns into development planning solutions at local, national and global levels offers sustainable responses to situations of large scale and protracted displacement, promoting benefits for the displaced as well as their host societies. Urban environments offer the possibility of greater opportunities for economic integration and self-reliance for migrants and refugees, and potentially offer a local integration alternative to return. Now, an increasing number of cities are integrating migration policies into urban planning and development initiatives.
In 2015 and 2016, countries adopted two global agendas in relation to urban development: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the New Urban Agenda. While SDG 11 on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable has no specific reference to migration, more than 40 targets across 15 of the 17 SDGs, including SDG 11, have direct implications regarding migrants, refugees, and situations compelling migration. Meanwhile, the New Urban Agenda provides an opportunity to respond to the needs of mobile population in urban areas by adopting an inclusive urbanization model that considers population movements, promotes and protects the rights of all people, while building on their capacity and responds to humanitarian and development concerns. The issue of refugees is emerging in urban areas and an understudied one in Indonesia. RDI is developing a research group focusing on urban refugees, to increase awareness, knowledge-base, and public discourse on its presence and future development and how it can contribute to urban development in general. At the core of the research is to find out how cities in Indonesia, who directly experience the influx of migration, welcome and deal with refugees despite the limited regulation and framework in the country. The initial phase of the research is limited to refugees as a result of conflict, but it is hoped that future studies will include refugees impacted by climate change or disasters.
The urban refugees research is part of the Children, Social Welfare and Health Cluster within the Resilience Development Initiative (www.rdi.or.id), in collaboration with Bandung Disaster Study Group. The research team members are: