Earlier this week, global leaders gathered in Quito, Ecuador for Habitat III, the United Nations’ Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. The ICRC took part, working to ensure that the New Urban Agenda (NUA) properly acknowledges the links between armed conflict, urban violence and urban development, and that commitments are made to ensure more resilient essential services and support for communities living amidst such violence.
Across the world, tens of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people live in increasingly unsafe and impoverished conditions because of the armed conflicts and violence that dominate the cities, towns and informal settlements in which they live. War and armed conflict can degrade, destroy or render vital urban infrastructure, basic services and economic assets inaccessible, leaving many people forced to flee their homes.
In this week’s roundup, we take a look at some of the conversations and discussions happening around Habitat III and what happens when cities become front lines as portrayed by the media and other online outlets.**
National Defense Magazine
Reporter Yasmin Tadjdeh writes that the rise of megacities will have major ramifications for the US army, according to a recent report by David Barno and Nora Bensahel of the Atlantic Council. By 2030, over 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Additionally, there will be approximately 41 megacities with populations that surpass 10 million people. “The Army has traditionally sought to avoid the intense demands of operating in urban areas wherever possible, preferring the less problematic challenges of open terrain, but this demographic reality means that urban operations will increasingly dominate land warfare,” the report said.
In this analysis by Sophie Moon, she writes about sitting in on a migration panel at Habitat III. “I couldn’t help but feel relieved. I was about to witness a discussion about the practical and policy-related solutions to migration crises. Not a Trump-fuelled debate, nor a Sun headline, but a discussion on how cities become more flexible, more accommodating, and more homely. Not for migrants specifically, but for everyone. The resounding theme in this discussion was, problems are not ‘migrant problems’ they are city problems.”
New York Times
Tim Arango and Rick Gladstone write that the recapture of Mosul "may turn out to be the easy part." If history is a guide, they write, "vast parts of Mosul, once Iraq’s No. 2 city with about two million inhabitants, could be left in smoldering ruins by retreating or die-hard Islamic State fighters who may use remaining civilians as shields and booby-trap entire neighborhoods with improvised bombs. Just clearing these explosives could take months or years."
Foreign Policy Magazine
Emile Simpson writes in this opinion piece that just because two of the biggest cities in Iraq and Syria are about to fall, it doesn’t mean the wars are any closer to ending.
Molly Hennessy-Fiske and W.J. Hennigan write, “This is expected to be the Iraqi military’s most complex operation yet: urban warfare in a densely populated city still full of civilians. But there’s also the promise of scoring an enormous strategic, economic and symbolic victory in the same city where the military was soundly defeated just two years ago.”
**The usual Intercross disclaimer: Just because something is featured here, doesn't mean we endorse or agree with it, and the views expressed on the platforms we're highlighting don't necessarily represent those of the ICRC.**
Are you a writer, videographer, photographer or blogger publishing interesting stuff linked to armed conflict, international humanitarian law (a.k.a. the law of armed conflict), innovation, compassion, history, etc. that you think deserves a shout-out here? Send us a link and we might feature your content next week. Write to: nclark (at) icrc (dot) org
For more about the ICRC's work in urban settings and our recommendations around Habitat III: