February 2021 -  The Mayors Migration Council (MMC) recently launched the Global Cities Fund for Inclusive Pandemic Response, which will provide USD 1 million to five cities for COVID-19 related service provision to migrants, refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in urban areas.

The cities selected for the direct financial and technical support are Barranquilla, Colombia; Beirut, Lebanon; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Lima, Peru and Mexico City. As most migrants, refugees and IDPs live in urban areas, UN-Habitat is supporting the MMC in this project alongside the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), facilitating outreach to applicant cities, advising on the application process, and ensuring the success of the Fund by providing technical advice and support to selected city grantees.

The Mayors Migration Council’s Global Cities Fund for Inclusive Pandemic Response aims to respond to the unmet needs of cities supporting migrants, refugees IDPs during COVID-19 particularly in the light of shrinking local government budgets. The Global Cities Fund will provide the support for a year to the cities to implement projects related to public health, employment, livelihoods, and social protection to mitigate the health crisis and its socio-economic impacts.

With support from the Open Society Foundations, the Fund builds on the Global Mayors Solidarity Campaign launched by the MMC’s Leadership Board in July 2020 to increase support for local policies and initiatives that directly address the COVID-19 recovery needs of refugee and migrant communities in cities. 

UN-Habitat supports the Global City Funds initiative through its extensive experience on working with local authorities for creating inclusive, safe and sustainable urban areas and transferring funds to local authorities in different countries. Direct funds transfers enable local actors to take responsibility and ownership and increase project management skills. UN-Habitat supports transfers in many cases by providing policy reviews, technical advisory services, capacity building activities and supporting monitoring processes.

“Mayors and local governments play a crucial role for migrants’ inclusion in cities. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, they ensure migrants and displaced are not left behind, in accessing health, water and sanitation, housing and food, offering bold and innovative solutions,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

“UN-Habitat has a long tradition in empowering local governments in their role including in strengthening their capacity to generate local revenue and access and manage external funds. UN-Habitat has often transferred a portion of its funding directly to local governments to increase ownership of planned interventions. A boost in funding often enabled local authorities to advance  innovative approaches to achieve social cohesion, which is critical to unlocking the positive contribution of migrants to their cities.”

In addition to supporting the overall processes of the Global City Funds, UN-Habitat will directly support the implementation of the funds in Beirut, Lebanon as Mayor Jamal Itani will partner with UN-Habitat to purchase and operate the city’s first Municipal Mobile Health Clinic, which will provide free and non-discriminatory COVID-19 testing and other basic medical services to any individual who is unable to access these services currently, including migrants and refugees in marginalized neighbourhoods.

Information on UN-Habitat’s work on migration and displacement is at




For additional information on UN-Habitat’s work in Lebanon see https://unhabitat.org/lebanon

Freetown has been selected as one of the five pilot cities for the Global Cities Fund by the Mayors Migration Council
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