IDPs - overview and trends


With the rise in internal conflicts, the number of IDPs has similarly risen, and they currently constitute the largest of those displaced by conflict. The estimated IDP population worldwide has remained more or less unchanged at 25 million; figures for those returning home (approximately three million in 2004) nearly match the numbers for new IDPs.

Key observations regarding IDPs include the following:

  • At least 52 countries worldwide are affected. Countries that are affected by rather significant IDP displacement include Myanmar, Central African Republic, Chad, Columbia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. According to estimates, women and children constitute 70-80 per cent of IDPs worldwide;
  • Although IDPs outnumber refugees by 2:1, their plight receives far less attention. In many situations, conflict-related IDPs receive no or limited assistance from national authorities – e.g. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sudan (Darfur) and Turkmenistan; and
  • Although the level of international attention with respect to IDPs has improved, this has not yet translated into tangible improvements in their situation. The number of IDPs exposed to threats of physical security stands at 15 million worldwide.

Improving the protection and the delivery of assistance to IDPs (and other conflict affected populations) remains a key priority for national governments and the international community at large.

As with refugees, IDPs may continue to experience displacement and/or human rights violations well beyond the actual cessation of hostilities while others return to a normal life either through local integration or return/repatriation. The former continue to be displaced for extended periods most often because of lack of a political solution to the conflict and are held in limbo with no immediate prospects for a durable solution. Examples on this are the Balkans and South Caucasus where the situation has somewhat normalized in the sense that there are very few, if any, armed clashes between the conflicting parties.

However, peace agreements over Kosovo, Abkhazia and Ngorno Karabakh have not been reached, and IDPs and refugees from those conflicts are therefore without durable solutions and remain marginalized from the host population mainly for political reasons.