On the Run in Their Own Country (SWP)

 Although cross-border flight has been high on the international ­agenda for several years, the more wide-spread phenomenon of internal displace­ment has received scant political attention, despite the fact that it pro­motes conflict and hinders development.

 The problem is exacerbated when internal displacement continues over an extended period. If a large population group is denied the ability to exercise its basic as well as its civil rights for years, there are high costs and political risks for society as a whole.

 Internal displacement can have many causes. If it becomes a protracted phenomenon, this points to fundamental political shortcomings. Hence, the issue is a politically sensitive matter for the governments concerned, and many of them consider offers of international support as being un­due interference in their internal affairs.

 At the global and regional levels, legislative progress has been made since the early 2000s. However, the degree of implementation is still inad­equate and there is no central international actor to address the concerns of IDPs.

 The political will of national decision-makers is a prerequisite for the pro­tection and support of those affected. This can be strengthened if govern­ments are made aware of the negative consequences of internal displace­ment and if their own interests are appealed to.

 The German government should pay more attention to the issue of inter­nal displacement and make a special effort to find durable solutions. The most important institutional reform would be to reappoint a Special Representative for IDPs who would report directly to the UN Secretary-General.


Anne Koch

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