Recent humanitarian emergency operations have often fallen short of their goals. For many years we have discussed the need for change. The time for change is now.
Recent UN reforms aim to clarify institutional responsibilities for internally displaced people and to significantly enhance accountability.
The Guiding Principles provide an important framework for protection. To make them more effective on the ground, however, governments now need to take steps to incorporate them into national legislation.
UNHCR is at a critical point in its 54-year history. Set up to protect refugees, it is now poised to take on a leading role in protecting internally displaced people.
National authorities have primary responsibility for protecting and assisting their internally displaced populations. But what, specifically, does this responsibility entail?
Many proposals are being advanced to improve – or even to scrap – the current international response system to crises of internal displacement. The collaborative response is far from ideal but, nevertheless, is still potentially the most viable way to systematically meet the protection and assistance needs of internally displaced people.
With no single organisation mandated to assist and protect IDPs, a collaborative response is a necessity. The Liberia experience, however, shows how unworkable it has been in practice.
The Collaborative Response is not working. In countries experiencing large-scale crises of internal displacement the international response remains characterised by lack of planning, failure to address critical protection gaps, inter-agency squabbles and inability to apply lessons learned.
Millions of people are at the mercy of armed non-state actors. Where national governments have lost the monopoly on the use of force, and judicial systems no longer function, many crimes are committed with impunity. Can more be done to encourage non-state actors to protect IDPs?
African states must accept responsibility for addressing the human rights abuses faced by their internally displaced populations. Implementation of the Guiding Principles and better education are essential to underpin any strategies for improving IDP protection and assistance.
IDPs are of primary concern to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Ensuring their protection lies at the core of its mandate, operational concerns and priorities.
A pilot project to return IDPs by river transport has highlighted the scale of the task of return and reintegration of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s estimated 2.3m IDPs.