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Tackling the issue

The traditional approach of international humanitarian actors to internal displacement has proven insufficient in meeting immediate humanitarian needs while at the same time supporting the achievement of durable solutions for the ever-growing number of IDPs worldwide. A rapidly resolved internal displacement crisis where IDPs quickly find durable solutions is a rare exception.

This requires a shift in how we understand and address internal displacement:

In protracted situations, internal displacement is primarily a development and political challenge

This may also require continued responses to persistent humanitarian needs in displacement-affected communities.

A young girl stands by her tent in the Warga Dalal camp in Zakho, northern Iraq. Credit: OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis

Move early towards self-sufficiency in protracted situations

IDPs should not have to wait until a conflict is fully resolved or all impacts of a disaster have ceased before they can begin rebuilding their lives in accordance with the fundamental standards of human rights and dignity. Steps should be taken to reduce IDPs’ vulnerability, impoverishment and marginalization by considering options for permanent or, pending return, at least temporary local integration or settlement in another part of the country. In particular, efforts should be made to help IDPs secure better access to livelihood opportunities, adequate housing with security of tenure, and basic services to reduce aid dependency.

Displaced women in Mpoko IDP site in CAR. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes

Systematize and strengthen cooperation across the political, humanitarian and development divide to achieve collective outcomes that address protracted internal displacement and prevent new displacement from becoming protracted

States, humanitarian and development partners, donors, civil society, the private sector and, depending on the circumstances, human rights, peace and security or disaster risk reduction (DRR) actors should combine their efforts to i) analyse the needs, vulnerabilities and capacities of IDPs and their hosts, ii) identify the reasons why displacement is protracted, and iii) agree on and implement strategic, clear and quantifiable collective outcomes. In the process of carrying out joint analysis and programming, the responsibilities of the Government and humanitarian and development actors should be clearly defined. 

Children outside a temporary school in Ah Nauk Ywe IDP camp in Pauktaw, Rakhine State, Myanmar. Credit: OCHA/Pierre Peron

Involve IDPs and host communities in decision-making processes

Interventions should focus on displacement-affected communities, while simultaneously recognizing and addressing IDPs’ displacement-specific needs. In particular, they should use area-based approaches that prioritize investments for IDPs and host communities in livelihoods, housing with security of tenure, access to basic services and other displacement-related needs. It is critical to ensure the provision of information, consultation with and the participation of IDPs and their hosts in decision-making processes and implementation.

Salima and Cosma, left, are from Msisi. They have a modest house and a few animals, but they do their best to assist newly arriving displaced people in Msisi. They are now hosting Zabibou, Esperance and Anasta with their children. Credit: OCHA/Ivo Brandau

Ensure that governments lead efforts to achieve collective outcomes

They should integrate internal displacement into national development plans, adopt normative and institutional frameworks on internal displacement and ensure that municipalities have adequate capacity to support their total population, including IDPs. In the absence of State-led initiatives, collective outcomes should be agreed on within the UN system, albeit necessarily including consultation with relevant authorities and the displacement-affected communities.

Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani and OCHA Head of Office in the Pacific Sune Gudnitz attended a community meeting in Koro where local leaders express their concerns following the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone WinstonCredit: OCHA/Danielle Parry/OCHA

Secure multi-year, flexible funding that transcends the humanitarian-development divide

Bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as international financial institutions, should direct multi-year, flexible funding towards collective outcomes that reverse the trend of protracted internal displacement by targeting its causes.