Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement

Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement

Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement

Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement

Synopsis

Since the end of the Cold War, increasing numbers of people have been forced to leave their homes as a result of armed conflict, internal strife, and systematic violations of human rights. Whereas refugees crossing national borders benefit from an established system of international protection and assistance, those who are displaced internally suffer from an absence of legal or institutional bases for their protection and assistance from the international community. This book analyzes the causes and consequences of displacement, including its devastating impact both within and beyond the borders of affected countries. It sets forth strategies for preventing displacement, a special legal framework tailored to the needs of the displaced, more effective institutional arrangements at the national, regional, and international levels, and increased capacities to address the protection, human rights, and reintegration and development needs of the displaced.

Excerpt

Internal displacement has emerged as one of the great human tragedies of our time. It has also created an unprecedented challenge for the international community: to find ways to respond to what is essentially an internal crisis. The severity of the problem, both in intensity and scope, is obvious from the numbers of the displaced, now estimated at between 20 million and 25 million, and the fact that virtually no region of the world is spared from this epidemic. This study by Francis Deng and Roberta Cohen is one of the first in-depth looks at a problem of great concern to the international community.

Internal displacement is particularly tragic because of the physical, social, and psychological dangers and indignities to which it exposes innocent people. The usual causes of the most problematic type of displacement are themselves traumatic: violent conflicts, systematic violations of human rights, forced dislocation, and other man-made and natural disasters in which discrimination on a variety of grounds features conspicuously. Whether the victims are forced into camps, choose to hide away in uncharted territory, or merge into communities that are often equally ravaged, internal displacement nearly always has a devastating effect on families, cultures, jobs, education, and the security of a stable society. Above all, it denies innocent people access to food, shelter, and medicine and exposes them to all manner of violence. If left unaddressed, internal displacement not only causes internal instability but may spill across borders and upset external and regional stability. There is therefore a compelling need for the international community to strengthen its support for national efforts to assist and protect displaced populations.

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