When does internal displacement end? In other words, when, in any particular situation, should internally displaced persons (IDPs) no longer be regarded as such?
Many of the circumstances that lead to internal displacement are similar or identical to those that cause individuals to develop a "well-founded fear of persecution" and seek international protection as refugees.
There is relatively little doubt about when refugee status ends. The 1951 Refugee Convention clearly spells out that refugee status ends when the refugee is no longer in need of protection. The fundamental principle underlying the refugee definition is not movement across a border but protection or the lack thereof from the government of his/her home country.
International efforts to uphold the rights of IDPs are bearing fruit at the normative level as well as in attempts to improve the institutional arrangements. So far, however, there are no agreed criteria nor mechanisms to address the question of when displacement ends.
The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement do not explicitly address the question of when displacement ends, i.e. when these principles no longer apply.
Few states in the world have a special protection regime for IDPs offering a specific legal status to assist victims of displacement.
International concerns and practical attention (including those outlined in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement) have been weighted on the side of emergency responses to displacement. No matter how effective they are, however, emergency responses are not solutions.
"A drop reflects the ocean", the old saying goes. This simple question - "When does displacement end?" - similarly reflects an ocean: the ocean of displacement issues. This question sounds simple but it isn't. In fact, it probes the depth and length of the entire involuntary displacement-resettlement continuum.
Since the early 1970s, conflict in Burundi has caused more than 200,000 Burundians to lose their lives, many to flee abroad and many more to be displaced, some temporarily and some more long term.
The case of Rwanda demonstrates significant differences among leading agencies and policy makers working with displaced people in their understanding of displacement and resettlement concepts.
Almost one quarter of a million displaced Sierra Leoneans were resettled in their areas of origin by the end of 2002, officially ending the internal displacement crisis in the country and further consolidating recovery after more than a decade of devastating civil war.
When does an IDP stop being an IDP? In Indonesia the answer was supposed to be: on 31 December 2002. This was the deadline announced in late 2001 when the government released its plan describing how it would solve the 'problem' of the more than one million IDPs spread across the country. (1)
The crisis in Iraq exemplifies the dilemmas inherent in contingency planning that face today's humanitarian community.
This article focuses on domestic violence against women living in camps, highlighting both the potential and the limitations of human rights standards in bringing change to women's lives.
A serious debate has developed in recent years with regard to 'standards' for humanitarian action.
A largely desert country, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania forms a link between the Arab Maghreb and western sub-Saharan Africa.
When displacement ends is a practical concern for agencies charged with helping IDPs. But who can really say when displacement ends? Neither the UN nor governments have been able to agree yet.
The differences between the 12 million refugees and the estimated 25 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) around the world as far as the international community is concerned is that the former have crossed international borders while the latter have remained within their countries.