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India: Large numbers of IDPs are unassisted and in need of protection

Originally published


Civilians have fled fighting and have sometimes been directly targeted by militant groups in Kashmir, the North-East and in several states of eastern and central India. Insurgency and retaliatory operations by security forces are the major immediate cause of conflictrelated displacement in India. A majority of the internally displaced people (IDPs) have not been able to return for several years, due to either protracted conflicts or unresolved disputes over land and property. One example is India's largest group of internally displaced, the Kashmiri Pandits who have been fleeing the Kashmir Valley since 1989 due to persecution, killings and massacres. Thousands more have languished in relief camps in Assam since the early 1990s, while more than 5,000 families remain displaced after the communal violence that erupted in Gujarat in 2002. During 2006, displacement has been on the rise in Chhattisgarh state, where more than 45,000 people are currently in relief camps and many thousands are thought to have fled to neighbouring states. Ongoing conflict between ethnic armed groups and anti-insurgent operations by the national army in the states of Assam and Manipur have also displaced thousands.

According to reports gathered by IDMC, the number of displaced in India is exceeding 600,000, but as there is no nation-wide reporting on the issue of internal displacement, the number could be much higher. The government's response to people fleeing conflict is often ad-hoc and largely insufficient, and the displaced are therefore often left in an extremely vulnerable situation. A first step to improve assistance to IDPs would be to conduct surveys in conflict-affected areas in order to document the magnitude of the problem and to develop a policy for a consistent nation-wide approach for assistance and protection of internally displaced populations.

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