Thematic Areas: Displacement

People forced to flee their homes due to conflict or natural disasters, but who remain within their own country, are known as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Today, more than 27 million people are internally displaced by conflict according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
Host states bear the primary responsibility for IDP protection and welfare. If unwilling or unable to meet IDP needs, international humanitarian actors may complement the national authorities’ efforts at the latter’s request.
The 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were recognized by Member States as the principal international framework outlining IDPs’ rights. They were developed by the former Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Francis M. Deng, and published jointly with a former ERC, the late Sérgio Vieira de Mello.
In 1997, the General Assembly (GA) tasked the ERC with a central role in the inter-agency coordination of protection and assistance to IDPs (52/12, 1997). It thereby reinforced the IASC’s designation in 1994 that the ERC be the “reference point” to support an effective IDP response in the field. This aspect of the ERC’s mandate is particularly important as no single agency is formally in charge of IDPs.
Operationally, UNHCR, as the Global Protection Cluster lead, has been entrusted to lead protection efforts of conflict-affected IDPs within the cluster system. Given major protection concerns in recent large-scale natural disasters such as Haiti, the protection lead in contexts of natural disasters is currently under discussion.
In raising awareness to the plight of IDPs, OCHA works in close partnership with Security Council bodies, UNHCR, the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs to the Human Rights Council, protection-related IASC agencies and UN Secretariat organizations to promote the development of national legal frameworks and policies on internal displacement.


Security Council, Internal Displacement and Protection: Recommendations for Strengthening Action through Resolutions, Oct 2011 - OCHA and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement
Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons, 2010 - Global Protection Cluster
IASC Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, April 2010 - The Brookings Institution - University of Bern
Integrating Internal Displacement in Peace Processes and Agreements, 2010 - The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters, Jan 2010 - The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement
Guidance on Profiling Internally Displaced Persons, English Version, Apr 2008 - OCHA and Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre [English - French]
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 2004 - OCHA
Internal Dispacement, OCHA on Message, April 2010 [Click here  to see Arabic, French and Spanish versions]
Monitoring disaster displacement in the context of climate change, Sept 2009 - OCHA-IDMC