Internally Displaced Persons

Internally Displaced Persons

Internally Displaced Persons

  • According to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are individuals or groups who are compelled to flee or leave their homes or habitual places of residence due to various factors such as armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations, or natural or human-made disasters.
  • Unlike refugees, IDPs have not crossed an internationally recognized border.

Challenges Faced by Internally Displaced Persons

  • Internally displaced persons encounter numerous challenges, including heightened vulnerability to mortality, physical attacks, sexual assault, and abduction.
  • They often lack adequate shelter, food, and access to healthcare services.
  • IDPs, especially women and children, face a higher risk of rights abuses and remain susceptible to being used as pawns or targets within conflict zones.

Difference between Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

  • The definition of a refugee, as outlined in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, includes individuals who have a well-founded fear of persecution based on certain grounds and have crossed an international border.
  • In contrast, IDPs do not cross borders but are displaced within their own country due to similar circumstances.
  • While refugees have specific rights under international law, IDPs do not have a distinct legal status and are merely described by their situation.
  • Refugees benefit from legal protections and rights specified in international conventions, while IDPs lack such specific legal provisions.
  • Although both groups may face similar challenges and circumstances, the legal status of crossing an international border differentiates refugees from IDPs.

Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

  • Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are entitled to human rights as stipulated by international human rights instruments and customary law.
  • In situations of armed conflict, they are afforded the same protections under international humanitarian law as other civilians.
  • The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, established in 1998, compile and reaffirm existing human rights and humanitarian law applicable to IDPs, addressing gaps and uncertainties in legal frameworks concerning their specific circumstances.
  • Specific Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
    • The Guiding Principles emphasize that arbitrary displacement is prohibited, and once displaced, individuals retain a wide range of rights, including economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights.
    • These rights encompass access to humanitarian assistance, protection from physical violence, education, freedom of movement, political participation, and engagement in economic activities.
    • Additionally, IDPs have the right to assistance from competent authorities for voluntary, dignified, and safe return, resettlement, or local integration, along with measures for property recovery and compensation when necessary.

Responsibilities for Protecting and Assisting Internally Displaced Persons

  • The primary responsibility for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons lies with the governments of the states where IDPs are located, reflecting a fundamental aspect of sovereignty.
  • However, the international community plays a complementary role in supporting these efforts.
  • There is no single global lead agency designated for IDP protection and assistance; instead, collaboration among various agencies and organizations is essential to effectively address the needs of IDPs.

About Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, established in 1998

  • The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, established in 1998, are a set of 30 standards that outline protections for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
  • These principles address the specific needs of IDPs who have been forced to flee their homes due to armed conflict, violence, human rights violations, or disasters within their own country.
  • The principles ensure that IDPs enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other individuals under international and domestic law without discrimination.
  • They emphasize that humanitarian assistance to IDPs should not be diverted for political or military reasons and highlight the primary responsibility of national authorities in providing assistance to IDPs.
  • Here is a summary of the 30 standards:
    • Protection against displacement
    • Protection against arbitrary displacement
    • Prohibition of displacement on ethnic, religious, or racial grounds
    • Protection from discriminatory displacement
    • Protection during displacement
    • Right to seek asylum in another country
    • Right to voluntary and safe return
    • Right to recover property and possessions
    • Right to assistance from national authorities
    • Right to access basic needs like food, water, shelter, and safety
    • Right to non-discrimination based on displacement or other factors
    • Right to protection from violence and attacks
    • Right to protection of family unity
    • Right to protection of vulnerable groups like women, children, and the elderly
    • Right to protection from sexual and gender-based violence
    • Right to protection from recruitment into armed forces
    • Right to protection of personal documentation
    • Right to protection from forced labor or exploitation
    • Right to protection of education for children
    • Right to protection of health services
    • Right to protection of livelihoods and economic activities
    • Right to protection of cultural identity and heritage
    • Right to protection of freedom of movement
    • Right to protection from arbitrary detention or disappearance
    • Right to protection from landmines and unexploded ordnance
    • Right to protection from environmental harm
    • Right to protection during return, local integration, or resettlement
    • Right to protection from discrimination in access to assistance
    • Right to protection from forced return or resettlement
    • Right to protection from reprisals or discrimination for seeking assistance