Who is an IDP?
IDP is short for “internally displaced person”. Some 26 million people worldwide currently live in situations of internal displacement as a result of conflicts or human rights violations. They were forced to flee their homes because their lives were at danger, but unlike refugees they did not cross international borders. Although internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one, their plight receives far less international attention.
Many IDPs remain exposed to violence and other human rights violations during their displacement. Often they have no or only very limited access to food, employment, education and health care. Large numbers of IDPs are caught in desperate situations amidst fighting or in remote and inaccessible areas cut-off from international assistance. Others have been forced to live away from their homes for many years, or even decades, because the conflicts that caused their displacement remained unresolved.
Read more on the definition of an IDP
Read more on current trends and developments
View video of an IDP situation
Who helps IDPs?
While refugees are eligible to receive international protection and help under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the international community is not under the same legal obligation to protect and assist internally displaced people. National governments have the primary responsibility for the security and well-being of all displaced people on their territory, but often they are unable or unwilling to live up to this obligation. In the absence of a single agency mandated to help IDPs, the international community has been trying to work together to develop adequate responses to the needs of the displaced within the framework of the “collaborative approach”.
Read more about the role of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)