Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz
Chapter 25: International humanitarian law and the protection of internally displaced persons
Displacement of people is one of the most immediate and widespread consequence of contemporary armed conflicts and is a matter of growing concern on every continent. Listening to armed conflict-affected people in eight countries, a survey from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) revealed that more than half of all people affected by armed hostilities had had to leave their homes. War-affected persons rank displacement as their most traumatic experience or as one of their greatest fears. Probably the most frequent phenomenon is that people flee from the effects of armed hostilities because the armed conflict is not fought according to the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL). For instance, they are victims of direct attacks, ill-treatment, destruction of property, sexual violence or they have restricted access to health care and other essential services. Whereas those who go to another country - refugees - have long been recognized under international law and given assistance, those who do not cross an international border - internally displaced persons (IDPs) - often have to fend for themselves. As their numbers have grown - there are now more than 27 million around the world - so has the humanitarian and legal attention they are paid. The need to better address the concerns faced by IDPs with specific international standards protecting them became apparent in the 1990s, in particular because of the increase of non-international armed conflicts-induced IDPs.
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