BLOG: A sense of belonging

To house refugees in an area by themselves will most likely lead to segregation and ghettoization which we normally try to avoid when we develop our cities.

Christina Krog, senior manager at the IFHP, has written a comment to the current political debate in the Danish parliament Folketinget. The parliament has requested the government to come up with proposals of how to house refugees in what is being called “refugee villages”.


“Allow me to start by saying that the idea of building so called villages exclusively to house refugees’ sounds like a very bad idea.

Among other topics at IFHP we work with housing of refugees, – both in Europe and in Denmark. We do so because it is part of our DNA to care about how we create better cities for people. We know quite a lot about social cohesive cities, about which tools and methods to meet the intended development and last but not least; Why the diverse city often is more innovative than the city in a pleasant comfort zone.

Since August 2015 IFHP has been working with housing of refugees in Europe, as several of our European members have pointed out we need to work together to deal with this challenge. That’s what we do: Work together to solve challenges. We share knowledge about problems and solutions, we help to translate them into own terms to make inspiration relevant locally. As professionals we believe we can contribute with solutions and perspectives unbiased and without political agendas.

It is intelligent, however NOT rocket science. But we feel obliged to sound an alarm in conjunction with the idea of establishing national refugee villages.

Normally we do what we can to avoid creating ghettos. There are few good examples of a neighbourhood created for a selected group of inhabitants. On the contrary, numerous examples exist of what it may lead to, when a neighbourhood with a specific population, albeit one that is in a minority, is isolated and detached from the rest of the city.

Just think of why we invest large sum in refurbishment of existing ghettos in most cities across Europe to dissolve segregation. Take a look around in your own city and you can probably easily find your own examples.

The segregated city with disconnected neighbourhoods is NOT the solution. Neither for the elite nor for the marginalised. In short; we simply do not have great examples of “gated communities” or ghettos being the source of creating prosperous cities. Which is why progressive cities today aim at developing cities with neighbourhoods which accommodate several functions and offer housing at different price range. So the idea to set up refugee villages isolated from the surrounding society is therefore not a good solution. Even if one assumes it is temporary. Firstly, because it almost always turns out that it becomes permanent. Secondly because there globally is a great demand for more affordable housing.”


The Danish government, as many other national and local governments, ought to solve the challenge of accommodating refugees by in general providing more affordable housing which is long-term sustainable and a benefit also for the existing population.

During the autumn 2015, the IFHP Housing Refugee Programme published seven considerations for when you work with housing of refugees, based on three main challenges. Read more about this in the report (http://www.ifhp.org/product/ifhp-ones-housing-refugees-programme-2015), and let us know what your current challenge is and share your approach and solutions with us all.

This is a shortened and edited version of the original comment, published at www.altinget.dk, 26 January

 

Christina Krog

Christina Krog

Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Manager of the Housing Refugees Programme

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.