Internal Displacement at Record High in 2009

Ida Jeng

According to the report Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 by NRC’s Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the number of IDPs continued to rise last year, predominantly due to longrunning internal conflicts. 

“The massive population movements and shocking violence are a sad reminder of the price that civilians pay in armed conflict,” said Elisabeth Rasmusson. “Millions of people were newly displaced by conflicts in which combatants did not meet their obligations to protect civilians.” 

6.8 million people were newly displaced in 2009, many more than in previous years, the report shows. While there were no new conflicts, the main triggers of forced displacement were longterm internal conflicts. 

In Pakistan, some three million people fled the army’s massive offensives against the Taliban and other armed groups. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo a million people were newly displaced as a result of military operations supported by UN peacekeepers and subsequent reprisal attacks by armed groups. There were also massive new displacements in Sudan (particularly in southern Sudan), Somalia, Colombia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. 

Many IDPs returned to their home areas after fighting had died down; around five million people reportedly returned during 2009. However, according to Rasmusson, “They were often forced or had no option but to go back, and they returned to find their homes and assets destroyed and their home areas still unsafe.”

“States must meet their obligations to protect people displaced on their territory,” said Rasmusson. “Their international partners must play their part in making sure that humanitarian aid is provided, and that the recovery of the people and communities affected is ensured and sustained for the long term.”

In many countries where fighting had long ended agreements on contested territory couldn’t be reached and people remained trapped in displacement, according to the report. In 21 countries people were born and grew to adulthood in displacement. 

The report Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2009 is the leading annual summary of the humanitarian and human rights situations of people internally displaced by conflict and violence. It offers detailed figures and global, regional and national analysis of the more than 50 displacement situations which IDMC monitors.

By Siri Elverland

Source: Norwegian Refugee Council