As the global population is concentrated into complex environments, rapid urbanization increases the threat of conflict and insecurity. Many fast-growing cities create conditions of significant disparities in standards of living, which set up a natural environment for conflict over resources. As urban slums become a haven for criminal elements, youth gangs, and the arms trade, they also create insecurity for much of the population. Specific populations, such as women, migrants, and refugees, bear the brunt of this lack of security, with significant impacts on their livelihoods, health, and access to basic services. This lack of security and violence also has great costs to the general population, both economic and social. Cities have increasingly become the battlefield of recent conflicts as they serve as the seats of power and gateways to resources. International agencies, non-governmental organizations, and policy-makers must act to stem this tide of growing urban insecurity. Protecting urban populations and preventing future conflict will require better urban planning, investment in livelihood programs for youth, cooperation with local communities, enhanced policing, and strengthening the capacity of judicial systems.
Patel RB, Burkle FM Jr. Rapid urbanization and the growing threat of violence and conflict: a 21st century crisis. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(2):1-4.