On this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 27, JRS Europe joins Pope Francis in calling for attention for the difficult situation of internally displaced people (IDPs). While current discussions on asylum in Europe focus on how to limit the numbers of refugees reaching our continent, it is important to remember that at global level the largest numbers of people who are “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” are in fact displaced within their own home-countries.
Who are IDPs?
IDPs are persons who have been forced to flee their homes to avoid armed conflicts, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural disasters, but who have not crossed an internationally recognised State border. Since IDPs remain displaced within their national State, unlike refugees, they do not benefit of a special status in international law. This means that they legally remain under the protection of their national authorities. But such authorities are unable or unwilling to protect them and in many cases are even directly responsible for the creating the situations that forced them to flee. IDPs are, therefore, extremely vulnerable.
Moreover, displacement conditions often turn out to be protracted indefinitely in time and IDPs find themselves living in a limbo with no durable solutions in sight, facing loss of property, loss of documents and in some cases family separation.
Where are IDPs?
According to the UN Refugee organisation (UNHCR) out of 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2019, 45.7 million were internally displaced. Most of the IDPs in 2019 were in Colombia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Somalia.
What are durable solutions for IDPs?
Durable solutions to end the displacement condition for IDPs can be, the return to their place of origin, the integration in the area where IDPs have taken refuge or relocation elsewhere in the country.
The feasibility of such solutions, however, often depends on whether or not the circumstances that led to the displacement have changed. Therefore, policies addressing durable solutions to protracted displacement should prioritise the assistance and protection of IDPs during their displacement, the enjoyment of their human rights and of humane living conditions, the non-discrimination and the freedom of choosing their residence.
JRS’s work for IDPs.
The mission of JRS is to accompany, serve and advocate for all forcibly displaced people. JRS currently accompanies IDPs in 14 countries, among which Syria, where it implements programmes for the displaced Syrians due to the ongoing civil war. JRS also supports the Global Protection Cluster – G20 Campaign – an initiative calling for renewed attention to IDPs around the world, and it provides recommendations to the several national offices for ways of supporting the campaign at the grassroots level.