UN Wants New Approach for Displaced People

Ukraine War, Conflict, Climate Adds More to Displacement

With a staggering 55 million people living in internal displacement at the end of 2020 and more displacements seen around the world, a UN panel has called for a shift to a development approach anchored in national ownership and governance that recognized internally displaced people as citizens with rights.

The new analysis and recommendations finds place in the report, Shining a Light on Internal Displacement: A Vision for the future, by UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.

UNDP Crisis Bureau Director Asako Okai said, “a development approach was needed so that future displacement crises are prevented, that those currently displaced are protected and integrated into the communities that host them, and that forcibly displaced people can safely return home or be resettled.”


The panellists in the report said that a fundamental change in mindset, approach and working methods was required to achieve solutions and there was a need to move beyond the humanitarian model. They called for stronger emphasis on the responsibility of States and recognition of the rights and agency of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as citizens and residents of their country.

“The focus must be on creating the conditions for solutions that are voluntary, safe and dignified rather than compelling IDPs to return home or leave their current place of shelter “the report said. They also called for tailor-made solutions to support vulnerable individuals and marginalized groups, ensuring that people of all ages, genders and diversities are able to find a lasting end to their displacement. Protection and the safety, security, and rights of IDPs should guide all aspects of the solutions approach.

“At the global level, we see the need for international solidarity and responsibility sharing’ to underpin solutions efforts, including a firm commitment by civil society and international actors to join hands in supporting IDPs and displacement-affected countries to find an end to displacement,” the panellists said in the report. The UN panel noted that the number of IDPs climbed steadily over the past decade with tens of millions of people forced to flee their homes each year and millions of others already trapped in protracted displacement. Many continue to face significant risks and violations of their rights while in displacement, with women children and vulnerable and marginalized groups typically experiencing the worst effects. For many IDPs, the prospect of rebuilding their lives remains elusive for years or even generations.


The UN report stated that several of the States fail to take responsibility for their displaced citizens and residents. Some of the reasons attributed to this are;

  • There is limited appreciation of the far-reaching costs of inaction on internal displacement.
  • Capacity gaps and operational constraints often impede progress even where the importance of action is understood and political will is present Internal displacement is frequently not prioritized, owned or addressed due to competing agendas.
  • Despite clearly established responsibilities, including most fundamentally of States to their displaced citizens and residents, there is limited accountability for actors that fail to respond to internal displacement or even cause it in the first place.
  • Other global trends are relentlessly compounding and exacerbating the crisis. These include, among others, the COVID-19 pandemic, the worsening climate crisis and the declining commitment to multilateralism
  • strong political will and Government capacity to lead durable solutions efforts;
  • key role for IDPs, local communities, civil society, the media and Shining a Light on Internal Displacement.
  • greater use of the private sector’s capacities;
  • a UN system with strengthened leadership and accountability on solutions;
  • predictable financing to catalyse action on solutions and support national ownership in the long term,
  • systems to generate and provide the necessary data and knowledge.


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