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Understanding the issue

The global number of IDPs has reached an all-time high. 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. In addition to the millions of people newly displaced each year, people already displaced by conflict and disasters face significant challenges in rebuilding their lives. A rapidly resolved internal displacement crisis where IDPs quickly find durable solutions is a rare exception.

Tens of millions of IDPs live below poverty lines. Some IDPs are able to rebuild their lives, but tens of millions of IDPs live far below the poverty line in substandard housing without security of tenure, and with no or only limited access to basic services, education and health care. They face security concerns and discrimination, struggle to maintain social cohesion and are exposed to gender-related risks. As a result, they become marginalized, with structural economic, political and developmental factors often underlying why IDPs remain unable to improve their lives.

Such IDPs find that for significant periods of time, they are prevented from taking or are unable to take steps that allow them to progressively reduce the vulnerability, impoverishment and marginalization they face as displaced people in order to regain a self-sufficient and dignified life and ultimately find a durable solution. They are in a state of protracted internal displacement, often remaining dependent on humanitarian protection and assistance for years and decades.

Millions of IDPs have been “left behind”, which is in contradiction to the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals that the most vulnerable members of the population, including IDPs, must be empowered to contribute to and benefit from development efforts.

Protracted internal displacement not only affects IDPs but also host communities and local governments. The majority of IDPs stay with host families or settle in urban or peri-urban communities, placing social and financial burdens on host communities and local authorities that can undermine their own resilience over time.

The major causes of protracted internal displacement
Lack of political will
Prolonged conflict
Inadequate plans to address such displacement
Limited engagement by international actors to move beyond humanitarian assistance
Lack of dedicated financial resources