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Ukrainian authorities have mobilized few resources to deal with migrant problems, though international organizations have been somewhat more helpful. (Popson & Ruble, 2001)
However, the phenomenon of urban refugees is not always seen in negative light. There are a number of countries with large urban refugee populations that manage to deal with the refugees in a positive and generally effective manner. However, it must also be pointed out that these are usually First rather than Third World or developing countries.
One such country is Canada. As Siemiatycki & Isin (1997) state,."Few city regions in the world have been more dramatically transformed by recent immigration than Toronto. And few institutions have a more direct impact on immigrant settlement and integration than municipal governments." (Siemiatycki & Isin, 1997) Canada has developed governmental policy to manage and order the immigration and refugee situation in that country. For instance, Toronto's ex-mayor David Crombie, has described city regions as,"....the human habitat of choice...heralding new values, overwhelming traditional local jurisdictions, pushing aside old boundaries and borders and even insisting on international influence and status" (Siemiatycki & Isin, 1997). This liberal and inclusive attitude also alludes to a positive attitude that is translated into practice with regard to the management of the urban refuge situation.
The city of Toronto has a refugee and immigrant population that shows a wide range of ethnocultural diversity. This diversity is mostly found in the urban areas. A 1996 figure indicates that immigrants and refugees accounted for more then seventeen percent of the population of Canada. "Across the Toronto CMA, immigrants comprised 42% of the population; while in the amalgamated City of Toronto 47.6% were foreign-born "(Siemiatycki & Isin, 1997). These statistics also show that the largest concentration of refugees is in the cities and urban centers. This is also related to the view that, "...third world immigrants occupy the core cities vacated by white flight to the suburbs" (Sassen 1994, p.103). However, in Toronto there is a refugee and migrant settlement both within the urban core of the city and on the periphery (Siemiatycki & Isin, 1997).
The governmental policies of the country have a purposeful impact on the refugee situation. Thus includes the provision of services such as schooling, safety, social services, land use, recreation, public health and transportation (Siemiatycki & Isin, 1997).
A study which explores the way that Canada deals with refugees is Settling Like a State: Acehnese Refugees in Vancouver by Jennifer Hyndman and James McLean (2006). This study states that full legal access to status and employment for refugees has been sanctioned by the government. However, it also points out that while inroads have been made in dealing with the refugee situation, yet "...there is no guarantee that refugees will have an easier time creating livelihoods under dramatically new conditions" (p. 345)
Urban integration and management issues
The extent of the urban refugee crisis in many areas of the world can be gauged for the intense need that has arisen in some countries for management and integration polices and measures. Integration in this context can be defined as "... The process by which immigrants and refugees engage in, and become part of the social, cultural and institutional fabric of society" (Valtonen, 1999, p. 469). This refers to the often difficult and complex process of resettling refugees in both a social and economic sense, as well as in the civil and political spheres (Valtonen, 1999, p. 469).
The problematics of integration can also be seen in the Canadian situation, where a liberal democratic country has to find ways of integrating refugees, while at the same time taking account of their particular ethnic identities. As Valtonen (1999) states, "The question is how far can cultural identities be catered for, while public institutions strive to meet the universal needs of free and equal citizens for primary goods such as income, health care, education, religious freedom, freedom of conscience, speech, press etc." (Valtonen, 1999, p. 469)
This raises a plethora of issue and questions that, while strictly outside the ambit of this paper, all serve to stress the fact that urban refugees and immigration in many countries has increased to the extent of becoming a pressing problem.
In Canada, this problem has been addressed by the official multicultural policy. This is also aided by "... culture-based activity... vibrant cultural life and commercial activity... sustained by the ethnic communities themselves" (Valtonen, 1999, p. 469). The task of refugee integration presents various challenges that are particular to each country. In the Ukraine the solutions to the refugee situation and integration depends to a large extent on the "...on the effectiveness and strength of urban institutions." There is a consensus that in the Ukraine and other regions that the experience and impact of refugees is urban and "...largely a phenomenon of city life" (Popson & Ruble, 2001).
In summary, the literature on the subject tends to suggest that the contemporary refugee situation in most areas of the world is related to urban features and residence. The causes for this are diverse but can be encapsulated by the fact that the urban areas offer the most obvious areas of resource and availability of work.
The influx of refuges into already heavily populated urban areas has created a multitude of potential problems. In the first instance, the local culture in urban areas may be unwilling or unable to adapt to the culture of the refugees and the situation may be worsened by the shortage of resources and food in the urban areas. The fact that urban areas are the focus of refugee residence is an aspect that has become more significant in recent years.
The realization of the urban nature of the refugee situation has necessitated the development of management strategies and solutions scenarios. There is a consensus that this problem needs to be addressed at both a local or regional and international level. In Africa for example, there is a growing realization that the increased influx of refugees to large urban centers has created areas of social and cultural tension. To this end the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will need to "...increasingly address the root causes of refugee movements" (Valtonen, 1999, p. 469). This also includes the realization that solving the problem of the urban refugee in the region will also necessitate addressing the issue in terms of its economic and political dimensions - especially in relation to the reality of ethnic conflict. To reiterate the view of Landau mentioned in the introduction to this paper, with the increase in the phenomenon of the urban refugees, more studies and analysis is needed to not only to understand this phenomenon but also to provide a framework for dealing with the issues that surround this phenomenon.
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Valtonen, K. 1999, the Societal Participation of Vietnamese Refugees: Case Studies in Finland and…[continue]
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