Forced Migration Review No. 55: Shelter in displacement

from Forced Migration Review, University of Oxford
Published on 20 Jun 2017 View Original

All displaced people need some form of shelter, and circumstances dictate that in reality not much of it conforms to the typical picture of a tent or tarpaulin nor meets official standards. The types of shelter and settlement responses found, employed and created by, and created for, displaced people profoundly affect their experience of displacement. It should provide some protection from the elements and physical security for those who dwell in it, and the articles in this issue of FMR give a glimpse of just some of the many ways this is possible.

But displaced people also seek safety, comfort, emotional security, some mitigation of risk and of the unease that accompanies being displaced, and even, as time passes, some semblance of home.

Displacement also disrupts community but even a temporary shelter can conform to people’s notions of home and belonging. The re-forming of community – whether from among one’s own people or among other displaced people and, importantly, among those into whose place one has been displaced – is an essential part of successful, satisfactory and sustainable shelter.

The articles in this FMR address these factors from a range of points of view: those of hosts, of agencies, of designers and of displaced people. The complexity of approaches to shelter both as a physical object in a physical location and as a response to essential human needs has engaged many humanitarian actors and, increasingly, designers, architects and innovators too. Technical shelter guidelines are widely available, so we have not attempted to include them here; instead we have selected articles that show some of how the guidelines play out in reality. Other articles show where and how displaced people establish themselves, how design considerations relate to the social and cultural reality of those who will live in the shelters, and how people make, inhabit, transform and adapt their shelter and settlement.

The full issue is available at