Internally Displaced Person Essay

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Pages: 19

For decades, they were largely ignored and forgotten, but together they probably comprise the world‟s largest group of vulnerable people. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million of them in at least 50 countries living amidst war and persecution. They have little legal or physical protection and a very uncertain future – outcasts in their own countries. Bureaucratically, they are described as IDPs – or „internally displaced persons.‟ In the real world, they are civilians, mostly women and children, who have been forced to abandon their homes because of conflict or persecution to seek safety elsewhere. The idea and the phenomenon of internal displacement are not recent. According to United Nations Office for the Coordination
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They may be trapped in an ongoing internal conflict. The domestic government, which may view the uprooted people as „enemies of the state,‟ retains ultimate control of their fate. There are no specific international legal instruments covering the internally displaced, and general agreements such as the Geneva Conventions are often difficult to apply. Donors are sometimes unwilling to interfere in internal conflicts or offer sustained assistance. There has been some debate surrounding whether IDPs and refugees should be grouped as a single category, and consequently whether the challenges caused by them should be handled by the same institution(s). This argument was first raised in the pages of 1998 and 1999 editions of Forced Migration Review (FMR) 5 . Barutciski argued that the attempts by some human rights advocates to extend the protection of refugees to the
5,Barutciski 1998 and 1999, Bennett 1999, Kingsley-Nyinah 1999, Rutinwa 1999, Vincent 1999


internally displaced may be counter-productive, as it would be detrimental to the traditional asylum option and could possibly increase containment. The discussion was revitalized in 2001, when the then US Ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, following a visit to Angola, argued that the bureaucratic distinction between refugees and IDPs was negatively affecting the lives of millions of IDPs. 6

Causes of internal displacement: