Policy brief #1: The Elephant in the Room: Internally Displaced People in urban settings

East Africa
Van Vollenhoven Institute
Democratic Republic of Congo

This is an output from a project that was part of the fifth Applied Research Fund (ARF) on mixed migration flows. The ARF is executed by NWO-WOTRO in close collaboration with the Platform. The call aims to strengthen the evidence-base for security and rule of law policies and programming, addressing the root causes, and the dynamics and consequences of mixed migration flows within and from fragile and conflict-affected settings.

In spite of their mind blowing numbers, internally displaced people (IDPs), especially those within urban settings, tend to receive much less attention than refugees. This document reflects on a number of questions that are critical in developing policy and programming for urban IDPs such as: How to define urban IDPs and does it make sense to distinguish them from others? Until when can somebody be qualified as IDP? Can somebody still be considered an IDP when the security situation has improved? Where can we find IDPs? It is shown that answers are not straightforward as categorizations are blurred in space and time. We argue that urban IDPs deserve more attention and more efforts to be made visible, because they constitute a large part of the displaced people worldwide; because they may have particular needs that non-displaced or displaced in camps do not have; and because their presence has a high impact on the hosting communities leading to a raised conflict potential.

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