Development environment

Protracted internal displacement

Many internally displaced people are caught in protracted situations for years or even decades.

While there is no common definition for protracted displacement, the term usually refers to long-lasting or prolonged situations in which progress towards a durable solution is very slow or stalled. Solutions may be achieved through the re-integration of internally displaced people (IDPs) back in their former homes (return) or their integration in new homes elsewhere (local integration or relocation).

Many IDPs displaced in the context of conflict, disaster and public or private development projects are left without safe and secure living conditions and livelihoods for years and face discrimination related to their displacement. Their needs evolve over time and prolonged displacement is often associated with impoverishment, increasing vulnerability and protection concerns that undermine resilience to further shocks and stresses.

Whatever the context for displacement, people in protracted situations are effectively marginalized from recovery and long-term development progress. Major gaps in data, knowledge and attention to the needs of IDPs whose displacement risks becoming protracted or has already become so run counter to international commitments to “leave no one behind”.

Our work

Over the 2017-2020 period, we will strengthen the evidence base about people in potentially and actually protracted displacement situations in order to inform and promote their inclusion in policy and action towards durable solutions and the reduction of protracted displacement risk.

This will include strengthening global monitoring of through quantitative data collection and in-depth case studies from multiple contexts, including rural, peri-urban and urban populations displaced by conflict, disasters, climate change and development projects.

Displacement dynamics are rarely simple and linear, and return or relocation in themselves do not bring an end to displacement-related needs. As such, protracted situations we will examine may include situations where vulnerable people are repeatedly and frequently displaced by high and chronic levels of risk, as seen in conflict and disaster-affected countries like Bangladesh, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Nepal and Somalia. They will also address situations where return is not a safe or possible option due to the decreasing habitability of land degraded or eroded by environmental change, including the impacts of global warming.

For people displaced by public or private development projects, some longitudinal studies exist but few cases are documented over regular intervals. We will also address the gap in data and information on displaced people who are not eligible for assistance to settle elsewhere in the country as this impedes understanding of the scale and scope of protracted displacement caused by development projects.