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World Refugee Day

What it takes to help internally displaced persons

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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A total of 40 million people are estimated to be displaced within their countries as a result of conflict and violence.
 
Of the world’s conflict-induced internally displaced persons (IDPs), 76% are concentrated in just ten countries. Many of the countries have struggled with high levels of displacement for decades.
 
On World Refugee Day, following the recent release of the annual Global Report on Internal Displacement 2018 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), the World Bank’s Senior Director of the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, about the report and key areas of engagement on the issue of IDPs.

A key message of the report is that failure to address long-term displacement has the potential to undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and progress on other international agreements. To make genuine progress at the national, regional and international levels, there needs to be constructive and open dialogue on internal displacement. This must be led by countries impacted by the issue, with the support of international partners, and in line with their national priorities and realities, according to the report.  
 
While continuing to monitor and assess internal displacement and sudden-onset disasters, IDMC will also focus in the coming years on building a more comprehensive understanding of drought-related displacement and internal displacement in cities, as well as expanding research into the economic costs of internal displacement. Watch the video to learn more.
 

The harsh realities – and hopeful solutions – of internal displacement

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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Among the 68.5 million displaced people around the world, almost two-thirds of them – about 40 million people – are internally displaced persons (IDPs) within their own countries, according to the United Nations.

While 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the ​Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, it is not a moment to celebrate since we are facing enormous challenges to address internal displacement. However, it is an important opportunity to galvanize international communities for strategic action aimed at protecting IDPs and addressing the development challenges.
 
On World Refugee Day, Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, speaks with Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG), Senior Director of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, on internal displacement.
 
In the interview, Ms. Jimenez-Damary outlines the important actions necessary for progress on the issue, including:
  • ensuring coherence between diplomatic, humanitarian, protection, and development actions, and
  • building capacity and awareness within governments so that they can better manage the challenges of internal displacement.

Ms. Jimenez-Damary emphasizes the need to allow the participation of IDPs “in order to make any solutions effective and sustainable.” Watch the video to learn more.
 
In April 2018, the Special Rapporteur, together with governments and humanitarian and development partners, including the World Bank, launched the GP20 Plan of Action for Advancing Prevention, Protection and Solutions for IDPs (2018-2020). For more information, click here.

Doing things differently to help refugees and their host communities

Franck Bousquet's picture
Refugee children in Ethiopia © Milena Stefanova/World Bank
Refugee children in Ethiopia. © Milena Stefanova/World Bank


On World Refugee Day, we pause to reflect on the struggles of refugees around the world. Refugees are vulnerable, having lost their assets and livelihoods, and without the ability to plan their lives. They need help regaining their voice, becoming self-reliant and rebuilding their lives.

At the World Bank Group, we recognize that the refugee crisis is not only a humanitarian concern, but a formidable development challenge as well. Numbers help to tell this story: Over 90 percent of refugees now live in the developing world; more than half are displaced for more than four years; fifty one percent of refugees are children and are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children; and many refugees are hosted by communities that are also struggling with their own development challenges – weakened infrastructure, food insecurity and limited access to quality health care, among others. Consequently, these communities also need our support.  

This is why the Bank Group, a development institution, is broadening its support for refugees and their host communities in a way that complements – not replaces – the work of others, especially humanitarian partners. We are approaching the problem from a development perspective, addressing social and economic challenges in the medium-term. The goal is to enable refugees to go beyond simply meeting their basic needs to getting an education, accessing health care, working, traveling and opening businesses – so that they can live as ‘normal’ a life as possible, and contribute to their local economy.  Including refugees in development planning and national systems is a key part of this approach.

Empowering refugees and internally displaced persons through digital identity

Nicholas Oakeshott's picture
Oria Adamo, 72 years old and the mayor of a small town in Central African Republic shows his ID card in the village of Ndu, Bas Uele province, Democratic Republic of the Congo where thousands fled after fleeing a surge in violence that began in May 2017. © Simon Lubuku/UNHCR
Oria Adamo, 72 years old and the mayor of a small town in Central African Republic shows his ID card in the village of Ndu, Bas Uele province, Democratic Republic of the Congo where thousands fled after fleeing a surge in violence that began in May 2017. © Simon Lubuku/UNHCR

Fardowsa, a 20-year old Somali refugee in Uganda, knows the vital importance of identity documents to refugees. She and her family were forced to flee her homeland in 2001 without any official documentation. The refugee ID card she was issued by the Government of Uganda not only provides her with protection and access to humanitarian assistance, but it has also given her the opportunity to study at university and open a mobile money account. With this foundation, Fardowsa is planning to start her own business to further improve her and her family’s new life. In the process, she will also be contributing to Uganda’s economy while realizing her potential as a young female refugee.

In World Bank art exhibition, artists unpack displacement stories

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Installation shot of Unpacked, a mixed media sculpture by Mohammad Hafez and Ahmed Badr. © Bassam Sebti/World Bank
Installation shot of Unpacked, a mixed media sculpture by Mohammad Hafez and Ahmed Badr. © Bassam Sebti/World Bank

As the World Bank Group strengthens support for refugees, internationally displaced people, and their host communities, the World Bank Art Program curated a multi-dimensional art exhibition entitled, Uprooted: The Resilience of Refugees, Displaced People and Host Communities to contribute a unique perspective. This exhibition showcased the creative voices of those artists touched by the refugee crisis, or those artists who were refugees themselves.

Artist Marina Jaber from Iraq. © Bassam Sebti/World Bank
Artist Marina Jaber from Iraq. 

The Uprooted exhibition included a visual art exhibition and musical performances featuring over 30 artists from places such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Colombia, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Central African Republic, Burundi, and Guinea. The artists produced works that questioned the impact of transience in individual lives and entire communities of people.

One capstone of the exhibition was the construction of a shed intended to evoke the shelters found in places such as the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. For the exhibition, the shed was enhanced with murals on its sides. Each mural was done by the hand of a different artist – Suhaib Attar, an artist from Jordan and son of Palestinian refugee parents, Marina Jaber from Iraq, a country with millions internally displaced people, Diala Brisly, a refugee from Syria, and Didier Kassai from the Central African Republic, a country in which violence and war have forced hundreds of thousands into displacement. 

A roadmap to reintegrate displaced and refugee Afghans

Shubham Chaudhuri's picture
A displaced family has taken shelter in a ruined house on the outskirts of Kabul. Photo: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


As the world marks World Refugee Day on June 20, we must remember that it is not only the refugee crisis that is hampering development efforts in many countries. There is also a silent emerging crisis of people driven from their homes to another part of their own country, people known as internally displaced persons (IDPs). It is a growing issue that several countries are facing, with enormous social and political pressures to address.

In Afghanistan, there are an estimated 1.2 million people who are internally displaced because of insecurity or are being forced to leave their homes due to natural disasters. This is in addition to the nearly 6 million people who have returned to Afghanistan since 2002, making one in five Afghans a returnee. In 2016, more than 620,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan alone.

The massive influx of returnees and IDPs is placing tremendous pressure on Afghanistan’s already fragile social and economic infrastructure and is a threat to regional stability.

When I first took up my position as Country Director of the World Bank for Afghanistan, I was struck by the plight of returnees and IDPs and by how hard-pressed the Afghan government was in dealing with them. During my first days in office, back in November 2016, I visited a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) center on the outskirts of Kabul. The center serves as the first entry point for returnees where they can receive assistance—including cash—and attend awareness and safety sessions to help them better integrate in their new communities.