Displaced Person / Displacement

The displacement of people refers to the forced movement of people from their locality or environment and occupational activities. It is a form of social change caused by a number of factors, the most common being armed conflict. Natural disasters, famine, development and economic changes may also be a cause of displacement.

In regard to population displacement resulting from development there are typically two types: direct displacement, which leads to actual displacement of people from their locations and indirect displacement, which leads to a loss of livelihood. Forced to leave the home region to which they are attached and for which they have the knowledge to make a living most effectively, displaced populations often become impoverished. The displacement of people as a result of development projects, policies and processes therefore constitutes a social cost for development.

One of the major challenges today is the growth in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide. While there are no official definitions of an internally displaced person, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement set by of Office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) holds internally displaced persons to be "persons or groups of persons who have been forced to flee, or leave, their homes or places of habitual residence as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, and habitual violations of human rights, as well as natural or man-made disasters involving one or more of these elements, and who have not crossed an internationally recognised state border".

Accordingly, the internally displaced are people who are forced to flee their homes, often for the very same reasons as refugees - war, civil conflict, political strife, and gross human rights abuse - but who remain within their own country and do not cross an international border. They are therefore not eligible for protection under the same international system as refugees. Also, there is no single international body entrusted with their protection and assistance.

Estimates on the number of IDP estimates are often very rough, and they tend to differ greatly in terms of the source (governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations). This is partly because IDP movements, in contrast to forced migration, typically involve short distances and often short time frames. In addition, internal movements are much less recorded than international movements. One reason is that the inherent interest of a receiving country in who is entering is absent in the case of internal movements, which are free of restrictions and subject to fewer administrative hurdles. In addition, considering that they are still living in the country where they have been persecuted, the internally displaced may be less willing to register than those who enjoy the protection of their asylum country. 

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