Internally displaced person

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Image:Tailor Lebuje camp, Uganda.jpg
Tailor in Labuje IDP camp in Uganda

An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who has been forced to leave their home for reasons such as religious or political persecution or war, but has not crossed an international border. The term is a subset of the more general displaced person. There is no legal definition of IDP, as there is for refugee [1], but the rule of thumb is that if the person in question would be eligible for refugee status if he or she crossed an international border then the IDP label is applicable. IDPs are not technically refugees because they have not crossed an international border, but are sometimes casually referred to as refugees.


[edit] Overview

The United Nations via the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently agreed on non-binding Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement based on the refugee instruments, which defines internally displaced persons as: "Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border." [2]

Nevertheless, there is no dedicated UN agency to deal with IDPs. This has led the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to act as ad hoc lead on IDP matters. As a result, it has been criticized for treating IDPs as less important adjuncts to their core mission to assist refugees.

There are currently nearly 25 million IDPs worldwide, roughly twice the total number of refugees. Internally displaced persons do not have a specific international legal instrument that applies to them as do refugees, because any attempt by an outside body to tell a nation how it should treat its own citizens has been seen as a violation of the principle of national sovereignty and self-determination. This principle has come under pressure in recent years by those who feel a moral imperative to stop gross abuse of citizens by their governments. Recent examples include use by the United States as a primary justification for military intervention during the Kosovo War and a secondary justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

[edit] Countries with significant IDP populations

[edit] IDPs by country

To see a table showing the most recent available figures on IDPs displaced by conflict, see IDMC's IDP statistic page.

[edit] References

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Refugees by Numbers.
  • Ilaria Bottigliero, "Displaced Persons Caught between War and Peace in Asia", 2 ISIL Yearbook of International Humanitarian and Refugee Law (2002), pp. 117-133.

[edit] External links

Internally displaced person

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