Engaging Violent Cities: Operational Challenges for Humanitarian Action in Urban Areas (HAW 17)

In the year 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population was living in urban areas. Cities have become more numerous, more populous, and denser. The complexity and density of urban environments significantly alter the viability of certain humanitarian protection strategies that might work well in rural, more sparsely populated areas. In addition, it has become difficult to draw the line between acute and chronic vulnerability and therefore, the identification of beneficiaries. This blur in distinction between chronic and acute vulnerability has raised a number of important questions for humanitarian organizations regarding if and how they should intervene. While many such organizations are equipped with the appropriate skills to mitigate overwhelming public health challenges is such contexts, the absence of a crisis point - such as armed conflict or natural disaster - brings the mandate of humanitarian agencies into question.

April, 2013