UN: Internal displacement, a global crisis affecting women, children

By Anny Castro

Tegucigalpa, Apr 18 (EFE).- Internal displacement is a global crisis with the “face of women, children and young people,” since these are the population groups most affected by violence and the effects of climate change, the United Nations special rapporteur for the human rights of internally displaced persons, Paula Gaviria, told EFE in an interview in Honduras.

Women, children and young people are the “main victims” of internal displacement, said Gaviria, who is in Tegucigalpa to participate in the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the approval of guidelines for internally displaced people.

The UN official – who is from Colombia – said that the main guidelines for internally displaced people were approved in 1998 and have been in place for 25 years, going on to emphasize that the phenomenon has increased in recent years due to the effects of climate change and generalized violence.

“There are more and more internally displaced people due to natural disasters and the effects of climate change, which adds to this panorama of suffering, a significant number of people who need protection,” she emphasized.

In Gaviria’s opinion, generalized violence, the links to organized crime, gender-based violence, along with the crime of extortion are all factors associated with internal displacement that create “extreme vulnerability” within the population.

Many internally displaced people are “in limbo” since “they cannot return to their homes but neither do they have a place to settle in conditions of dignity and safety, which allow them to feel that they can reestablish their lives,” she said.

Forced displacement has become a global phenomenon, in the face of which Gaviria said that humanity and world leaders “have failed the most vulnerable people – the displaced – in protecting them, in preventing the causes and in achieving lasting solutions for them in their situation.”

Thus, she said that the main UN guidelines for internally displaced persons “are … oriented toward the states,” but “need to be implemented because displacement has increased exponentially” in recent years.

According to figures cited by Gaviria, in 2021 almost 60 million people were classified as displaced around the world.

She applauded the fact, however, that Honduras has become the 15th country to approve a law regarding forced internal displacement, which will enter into force on Wednesday.

With the new law, she added, the Central American country is showing that it is “committed to the response, the protection of and attention to” the victims of internal displacement, a phenomenon that was recognized in Honduras in 2013 and which has forced some 247,000 people to abandon their homes in recent years.

The Honduran parliament last December approved the Law for Prevention, Attention and Protection of Internally Displaced Persons Due to Violence, legislation that was promulgated in March 2023.

Creating a specific law to attend to internally displaced people, the UN official said, “is not enough,” but she added that she believed it sends “a very powerful message” that the state “recognizes its obligations and responsibility” vis-a-vis the problem.

The law must be implemented “with resources, with the participation of the largest number of state institutions, in an organized, coordinated manner with clear goals” to create the measures for protection and assistance and that its implementation must not “remain (only) on paper,” she said.

It’s also necessary to promote a program of recruitment prevention and a “solid” human rights policy to prevent the causes of internal displacement.

The law must create “a social supply series” so that responses can be “comprehensive” to enable displaced persons to “return to their place of origin, resettle wherever they want and integrate themselves into the cities where they’ve decided to settle” with all their rights, the UN rapporteur said.

EFE ac/bp

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