One overlooked aspect of the global conversation on conflict, disaster and humanitarian affairs is internal displacement and the plight of internally displaced people, or IDPs. Like refugees, IDPs have been forced from their home by conflict or disaster. But unlike refugees, they have not crossed an international border and are not afforded the kind of legal protections embedded in widely adopted international treaties like the Refugee Convention.
Still, as my guest Alexandr Bilak a explains, the number of IDPs around the world is actually greater than the number of refugees.
Bilak is director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and we caught up as her organization released its latest flagship annual report Global Trends in Internal Displacement. We run through the numbers, the key policy challenges and discuss how the international community can do a better job of keeping the priorities of IDPs in the front and center of broader conversations about refugees and migration.
If you have 20 minutes and want a deeper understanding of this key global issue, have a listen.
Every year, millions of people are forced from their homes due to conflict and natural disasters across the world. Refugee crises make international headlines, and refugees are frequently offered relief by the global community. But in order to achieve refugee status and the associated legal protections, victims must cross an internationally-recognized border. So, what happens to those who don’t? Listen in to find out more about the people who are overlooked by the global system of conflict and humanitarian relief.
What are IDPs?
An IDP is an internally displaced person. IDPs are those people who are forced to flee their home due to conflict, natural disasters, or human rights crises, but have not crossed an international border in doing so. Remaining within the borders of their home country means they do not benefit from international protections but, instead, are subject to the jurisdiction of their state. Tune in to learn more about the ways in which IDPs are treated differently than refugees.
Alexandra Bilak studies internal displacement—an often overlooked aspect of humanitarian crises. She is the Director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Her organization analyzes trends in internal displacement around the globe. In this episode Alexandra joins Mark on the show to explain the developments observed by the Centre and discuss the nuances of the internal displacement problem.
Where is internal displacement a problem?
In spite of sustained conflict, internal displacement has declined in Syria. In 2016, it was the Democratic Republic of the Congo that saw the most new internal displacement with more than 1 million new cases. Colombia leads the world in total IDPs. These facts may surprise some, but Alexandra explains why we shouldn’t really be astonished.
- ([01:15])—Introduction to Alexandra Bilak, Director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
- ([02:32])—Defining internally displaced people (IDPs)
- ([03:42])—A description of protections for IDP’s
- ([05:49])—2016 IDP statistics presented
- ([07:20])—A discussion of the relationship between IDP trends and refugee trends
- ([09:15])—Synopsis of IDP trends in Syria
- ([10:19])—“Global tour” of IDP hotspots
- ([13:34])—Displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- ([19:36])—Displacement in Colombia
- ([22:37])—Areas of improvement for IDP relief
- ([29:15])—An overview of non-conflict-related displacement