Learning from Lesbos: Lessons from the IRC's emergency response in the urban areas of Lesbos

Date published



This International Rescue Committee (IRC), titled Learning from Lesbos, examines the IRC's early emergency response in the cities and towns of Lesbos, Greece during the height of the refugee crisis. 

Nowadays, nore than half of the world's displaced people live in urban areas. The humanitarian sector has to adapt to the challenges of increasing urbanisation and the increasing role of cities as places of refuge as well as sites of heightened risk of crisis, marginalisation and inequality. The arrival of large numbers of people in an urban area brings challenges and opportunities for both displaced and host populations.

Building on the premise that these challenges and opportunities are not adequately recognised or addressed in humanitarian response, this report underlines the importance of a coordinated and collaborated approach to emergency response in urban areas. The report thus puts forward recommendations that reflect the lessons learnt from the International Rescue Committee's (IRC) initial emergency response programming on the island of Lesbos, Greece, between September 2015 and March 2016, while the crisis on Lesbos was at its peak.

Related Area

English version

Thematic area

  • Rural development and urbanization

Document link

Document language


Document type

Focus area

Migration and Local Economic Development
Migration and Decentralized Cooperation
Migration and Local Governance

Publisher / Organisation

International Rescue Committee

JMDI publication