Capturing Voices of Migrants in Cities

This audio-visual exhibition is designed to raise awareness on the importance of spatial planning for migrant* inclusion in cities, reducing xenophobia by introducing migrants and their personal stories and underlining the role of local actors and decision-makers for social cohesion and inclusion.

*Note: For this project, the term “migrants” is used for all people on the move, including refugees, IDPs, returnees, seasonal workers, migrants (rural-urban, but also between cities)

Photographs and audio will be collected in an open call for submissions from 20 November 2019 until 10 January 2020.

The exhibition will be launched at the World Urban Forum (WUF 10) in Abu Dhabi, in February 2020.

The audio-visual exhibition will:

• Introduce migrants, with a strong focus on children, youth and women in their favourite spaces in their city of arrival. In the audio contributions, which will be available on a website and accessible via a QR code, they will tell their stories and share what spatial aspects made them feel safe and welcome and who (or what institution) played a major role for in providing information and supporting their arrival.

• Allow migrants to share their hopes and aspirations, their challenges and their personal (positive or negative) experiences in daily (urban) life and introduce spectators to migrants’ realities. 

• Raise awareness that migrants are individuals and reinforcing the fact that migrants and refugees have “the right to the city”.

• Focus on migrant children, youth and women, as they are often being left behind and their (special) needs are often not considered for city development, service provision and urban planning. 

• Reflect diversity of migrants in social, educational and economic background by not only showing migrants or refugees as a group of people in a vulnerable situation but introducing a broad range of life stories. 

• Showcase the“spatial dimension of inclusion” and highlight the importance of inclusive (public) spaces enabling social cohesion.

• Highlight the role of local stakeholders in providing services and support structures. In their stories, migrant children, youth and women will explain what the most enabling factors were (including institutionalized or civil society actors who support structures for their settling in).

The exhibition aims to contribute to changing the narrative on migrants and reduce xenophobia, thus supporting the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees. Through its emphasis on “spatial factors” for human well being and by underlining the role of local players, it creates a link to the New Urban Agenda and enhances the understanding that safe and inclusive cities are needed for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

For the exhibition at the WUF, a selection of photos will be printed at large-scale. Audio recordings and other photos will be made available on the accompanying website and used for social media campaigns. 

Photographs and audio will be collected in an open call for submissions from 20 November 2019 until 10 January 2020. Submissions can be uploaded to a Flickr-page ( after accepting the group rules.

Audio files can be shared with the UN-Habitat project team (

If you would like to submit audio files, please contact the team for further instructions and a set of questions.

This exhibition call is a collaboration between UN-Habitat, UCLG, UNICEF & Mayors Migration Council.