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Forced displacement: refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs)

Each year millions of people are forced to leave their homes and seek refuge from conflicts, violence, human rights violations, persecution, and natural disasters. The number of forcibly displaced people continued to rise throughout 2017, calling for increased humanitarian assistance worldwide. Up to 85% of the forcibly displaced find refuge in low- and middle-income countries.

At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were in need of protection and assistance as a consequence of forced displacement, according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. This is the equivalent of a person becoming displaced every two seconds. Forcibly displaced populations include refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and asylum-seekers. Globally in 2017, 40 million people were internally displaced as a result of conflict and persecution, while 25.4 million were refugees and 3.1 million were asylum-seekers. Most refugees nowadays live in urban areas (58%), not in camps or rural areas. Of the global refugee population, 52% are children under 18 – the highest proportion in a decade – including many who are unaccompanied or separated from their families (source: UNHCR Global Trends Report 2017).

Turkey remains the world’s leading refugee hosting country with a population of 3.5 million refugees, mainly Syrians. Lebanon meanwhile hosts the largest number of refugees relative to its national population.

Every year on 20 June, World Refugee Day is an opportunity to bring renewed focus to the plight of all people who are forced to flee their homes. The UN General Assembly established the World Refugee Day in 2001, on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – a set of standards that outline the rights and guarantees relevant to the protection of IDPs from forced displacement to their protection and assistance during displacement up to the achievement of durable solutions. Although not a legally binding instrument, the principles have gained considerable authority since their adoption by the UN in 1998. The EU strongly supports the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and systematically promotes their inclusion into international and national law.

Finding durable solutions for the forcibly displaced is a challenge. Voluntary repatriation to their home countries is the preferred long-term outcome for refugees; but the lack of political solutions to conflicts prevents many from doing so. Forced displacement is no longer a temporary phenomenon; it lasts on average 20 years for refugees and more than 10 years for 90% of IDPs.

Those who are internally displaced also face challenges in terms of protection, access to shelter, food and other basic services. Both refugees and IDPs in urban areas struggle with poverty, lack of psycho-social support, and difficulties in normalising their status.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu

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