Internally Displaced Person

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Preamble:
For decades, they were largely ignored and forgotten, but together they probably comprise the world‟s largest group of vulnerable people. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million of them in at least 50 countries living amidst war and persecution. They have little legal or physical protection and a very uncertain future – outcasts in their own countries. Bureaucratically, they are described as IDPs – or „internally displaced persons.‟ In the real world, they are civilians, mostly women and children, who have been forced to abandon their homes because of conflict or persecution to seek safety elsewhere. The idea and the phenomenon of internal displacement are not recent. According to United Nations Office for the Coordination
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However, a United Nations report, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement uses the definition: Internally displaced persons are "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border." 4

Components of the IDP definition
The definition provided by the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement highlights two elements:

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www.unhcr.org/internallydisplacedpeople United Nations report of Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Introduction, Para 2

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1) The coercive or otherwise involuntary character of movement. 2) The fact that such movement takes place within national borders.

Refugee vs. IDPs
Both groups often leave their homes for similar reasons. Civilians are recognized as „refugees‟ when they cross an international frontier to seek sanctuary in another country. The internally displaced, for whatever reason, remain in their own states. Newly arrived refugees normally receive food, shelter and a place of safety from the host country. A well-defined body of international laws and conventions protects them. The UN refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations work within this legal framework to
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