Our Perspectives

Reintegrating the displaced is key to tackling inequality


IDPs in ZamZam camp, DarfurA woman rides a donkey with her children in Zam Zam camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), North Darfur. Since the beginning of this year, 200,000 people were forced to flee their homes due to continued violence in Darfur. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UN

Over 44 million people around the world today are displaced from their homes by conflicts and political instability.

In places like Colombia, Somalia, or Sri Lanka, refugees often face the psychological trauma of having to run for their lives, losing their homes, families, social networks and jobs in exchange for an insecure future.

Displacement also comes at a high cost to host communities, which face increased competition for jobs, water, education, health care and other resources and services. Unmanaged, this can result in heighted risk to the sustainable development of host communities and may even fuel local conflicts.

I was recently in Copenhagen co-chairing a meeting with UNHCR and the governments of Colombia and Denmark, where we discussed the challenge of reintegrating the displaced. All participants agreed to work together under the banner of Solutions Alliance – Ending Displacement Together.

Reintegration can present an important development opportunity. The influx of refugees into a host village can offer a special chance, for improving wells, fixing infrastructure and expanding schools.

It is vital to ensure the rule of law and security, and foster national ownership, trust and accountability. In countries like Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen, we are undertaking a range of initiatives with our partners that demonstrate how such positive steps can ameliorate difficult situations. And in places like Burundi, Tanzania, and Georgia we have proven that when displaced people are provided with access to land and markets, they can became an asset for the host communities. 

To succeed we must draw on lessons from recent work. Specifically we need to ensure that:

           - Our programmes and policy services are developed on the basis of evidence of what works;
           - Displaced people are given a voice in the design and implementation of our activities;
           - Government institutions are bolstered to deliver greater access to basic services for displaced populations
             and affected communities; 
           - Efforts are undertaken to foster inclusive growth that helps provide jobs and other income opportunities;
           - We take into account the needs of the most vulnerable in displaced population, including women and

 At this time, we are looking at ways to scale up our programmes and support in countries like Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Together with our partners we will address this challenge that for far too long has deprived people of their basic human rights. 

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