For the past decade, the number of people who are internally displaced due to conflict, violence, disasters, and climate change has been climbing steadily. By the end of 2021, some 59 million people were displaced, including millions who were trapped in protracted displacement and dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.1 Global estimates of the average duration of contemporary displacement range from 10 to 26 years,2 with people in some 50 countries experiencing internal displacement for 10 years or more.3 While displaced, people often face serious protection concerns, lack of access to basic services and livelihoods, and high levels of poverty and marginalization.
Against this backdrop, in 2019, the UN Secretary General (SG) constituted a High-Level Panel (HLP) on Internal Displacement to make recommendations, renew focus and global commitments to address the protection and long-term recovery and resilience needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The panel’s work culminated in a report entitled Shining a Light on Internal Displacement: A Vision for the Future to the UN Secretary General (SG) on 29th September 2021. As a follow on, the SG appointed a Special Advisor on Solutions to Internal Displacement and tasked the UN system with developing the Action Agenda on Internal Displacement, launched in June 2022, to put the recommendations of the High-Level Panel into practice.
The key message of the Secretary-General (SG) in his Action Agenda on Internal Displacement is simple: "More of the same is not good enough." In line with the vision of the SG and his Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement, IOM recognizes that the system as a whole must move beyond treating internal displacement as a primarily short-term humanitarian problem. This means promoting solutions through the scale up of development-oriented, nationally-owned approaches which address the underlying causes of protracted crises and build resilience to risk and vulnerability. It means strengthening anticipation and prevention by expanding the reach of early warning systems and emphasizing community-based approaches across disaster risk management, climate change adaptation, and stabilization. It means ensuring a ‘solution-friendly’ approach is embedded in crisis response efforts to help communities move towards a path of sustainable peace, prosperity, and development right from the start of an emergency.
As a leading agency responding to the needs of displaced persons, IOM is poised to build upon its work and experience on durable solutions, strengthen its partnerships and collaboration across the system, and help deliver the change that is needed.
Issues of Priority
IOM prioritizes the following areas of focus of the HLP:
Promoting Permanent Solutions through Development Approaches: As a triple-mandated agency, IOM’s approach to solutions begins during its humanitarian work and spans the nexus. In line with the Action Agenda however, IOM is placing a particular emphasis on expanding and strengthening its development programming to support the progressive resolution of displacement.
Strengthening Anticipation, Prevention and Preparedness: OM supports the SG’s Action Agenda recommendation to reduce conflict and violence as drivers of displacement and reduce displacement risks posed by climate change and disasters. IOM does this by expanding the reach of early warning systems and emphasizing community-based approaches across disaster risk management, climate change adaptation, stabilization and peacebuilding programmes.
Ensuring a ‘Solution Friendly’ Approach in Crisis Response: IOM leverages its humanitarian programming to ensure a ‘solution-friendly’ approach is embedded in response efforts. IOM’s uses relevant response and coordination platforms to allow space for IDPs to voice their preferences and accompanying them in their first steps towards durable solutions.
In addition, IOM will maintain the following cross-cutting priorities on all of its work to permanently resolve internal displacement:
Data and Solutions: Through the many tools of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), IOM informs coherent and effective durable solutions interventions by providing essential data on IDP stocks and needs, as well contextual and area-level data information on displacement drivers and obstacles to solutions. DTM is currently active in over 80 countries and providing information on the needs of 39 million IDPs globally.
Government Leadership: IOM supports States to fulfil their responsibility to protect the rights of IDPs and respond to their needs by supporting government-led durable solutions frameworks, integrating policies for solutions into broader sustainable development planning, and strengthen institutional capacities for policy implementation at national and local levels.
Participation and Inclusion: IOM has long applied area-based approaches and community-based planning as part of its internal displacement response. IOM will continue to invest in participatory, inclusive and accountable approaches that place local authorities, communities and displaced populations at the centre of solutions.
1 Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020 (Geneva, April 2020)
2 Elizabeth Ferris, When refugee displacement drags on, is self-reliance the answer? [blog post], Brookings Institution (Washington, D.C., June 2018).
3 World Bank, Forcibly Displaced: Toward a Development Approach Supporting Refugees, the Internally Displaced, and Their Hosts (Washington, D.C., 2017)