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Internal displacement: Global overview of trends and developments in 2005

Originally published


The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council is pleased to present its Global Overview of trends and developments with regard to internal displacement covering the year 2005.

The report provides an analysis of the worldwide internal displacement crisis, at both global and regional levels, and includes sections highlighting a number of key thematic areas relevant to the lives of internally displaced people (IDPs). It is based on the wealth of information in the IDMC's online IDP database, which contains detailed pro. les of internal displacement situations in some 50 countries worldwide.

We hope that this report - the only comprehensive yearly overview of global IDP-related developments - will serve to increase awareness and understanding of the worldwide internal displacement crisis and thus contribute to efforts aimed at improving national and international responses.

As the report clearly shows, little progress was made in 2005 with regard to preventing internal displacement and responding to the humanitarian and protection needs of the displaced in a timely and systematic manner.

National governments bear the main responsibility for this massive humanitarian and human rights crisis affecting over 20 million people worldwide. A disturbingly high number of governments not only failed to provide adequate assistance to IDPs on their territory but, worse, were themselves behind the deliberate displacement of parts of their population. The international community is to blame as well - for insuf- cient efforts at the political level to prevent or end con. icts and for the continued failure to set up a credible response to the needs of one of the world's mostneglected groups.

There have been a number of promising new initiatives at the international level in 2005 to reform the humanitarian response system. But even if these reforms are fully implemented, much more decisive action is needed, in particular at the political level, to bring an end to the con. icts causing displacement and address their root causes in a serious and comprehensive way. Only then will it be possible to contain and eventually solve the global IDP crisis by preventing further displacement and creating conditions for the sustainable return or resettlement of the displaced.

The Global Internal Displacement Crisis: Trends and Developments

Slight decrease in IDP figures

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that at the end of 2005 some 23.7 million people were displaced within their own countries as a result of con. ict and gross human rights violations, some 1.6 million fewer than the previous year (1).

For the first time in nearly a decade, the estimated total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) went down by a considerable margin during the year. From the second half of the 1990s onwards, the global IDP . gure had increased dramatically to reach 25 million in 2001 and then remained almost unchanged at that level until 2004 (see chart 1), as year after year the scale of return movements or resettlements had been matched by equally large numbers of new displacements.

The decrease observed in 2005 appears to reflect a real trend, and is only to a lesser extent due to re-registrations or revisions of estimates not based on actual population movements or esettlements. In fact, the number of IDPs who were able to return during 2005 - an estimated 3.8 million - was almost double the number of people newly displaced in the course of the year 2.1 million). Compared to the previous year, significantly more people were able to return to their homes the majority of them in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - and far fewer were forced to flee their omes. However, in most cases there were serious concerns about the sustainability of returns as conditions in return areas were generally not conducive to lasting reintegration.


(1) Unless otherwise indicated, all IDP-related statistics in this report are based on data and analysis drawn from the IDMC's IDP database ( which includes comprehensive pro.les of all countries affected by internal displacement, as well as a multitude of other resources relating to the issue of internal displacement.

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