Humanitarian Issues: Should more be done to protect the internally displaced?

27 October, 2011
IDPs in Dereige camp, South Darfur, 17 March 2011. Credit: OCHA
IDPs in Dereige camp, South Darfur, 17 March 2011. Credit: OCHA

The UN Security Council (UNSC) should be doing more to address the problems facing people displaced by conflict, a new study by Brookings and the London School of Economics has found.

The UNSC referred to internal displacement in 19 per cent of its resolutions from 1999-2010, the report said. However, its action on the issue has arguably been incommensurate with the scale of the problem. 27 million people worldwide were internally displaced at the end of 2010.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) is the term used by humanitarian organizations to describe individuals forced to leave their homes due to conflict or natural disasters, but who remain within the borders of their country.

The challenges facing IDPs have traditionally been seen as an internal affair, but in recent years, as the problem has grown, the international community has paid increasing attention to their situation.

The report, “Security Council, Internal Displacement and Protection: Recommendations for Strengthening Action through Resolutions” was launched on 19 October by OCHA and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement.

The study analysed 747 Security Council resolutions and found that 142 made reference to internal displacement.

Moreover, it revealed significant discrepancies between different crises. While UNSC resolutions on Georgia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan – where there are many IDPs – addressed internal displacement in most instances, the study found that only one resolution on Somalia had included language on the issue, despite internal displacement being a major problem there.

The report also found that UNSC resolutions had failed to propose durable solutions for IDPs that go beyond return to include local integration and resettlement. Issues surrounding housing, land and property were also rarely addressed, despite them being important to peace and security.

“The Security Council has included references to internal displacement in many of its resolutions, but has done so inconsistently,” said Dr Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

“We hope that this report will enable the Security Council to address issues of internal displacement more consistently, comprehensively and effectively.”

Download the Report (PDF)  -  More on Displacement

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