A man evacuates his children through waist-deep waters after heavy flooding in Nowshera, in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, August 2010. (Photo: REUTERS/Adrees Latif, courtesy www.trust.org/alertnet)
Millions of men, women and children around the world are forced to flee their homes each year by extreme natural hazard events. Most are internally displaced within the disaster-affected country. In the context of global climate change, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has been increasing. And as the number of people affected by storms and floods grows, crises caused by other types of natural hazards, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, continue to demand urgent action.
Disaster-induced displacement is pushing many people beyond their coping capacities, particularly where their pre-disaster lives are already a struggle, where homes, property and livelihoods are destroyed and where there is limited time for recovery between successive events. In all countries, both rich and poor, it is the poorest and most marginalised people who are disproportionately affected by disasters and most in need of protection. Experience from many disasters has shown that displaced women and children face serious risks of abuse.
Disaster-displaced people may face particular risks which can be mitigated or avoided if national and international actors take into account their rights in all phases of response and in preparedness against future disasters. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement provide a framework for national authorities and other actors to ensure the equal treatment and protection of IDPs under international law.
Women, men and children should not be discriminated against because of their displacement. As for other disaster-affected people, IDPs have the right to be protected against violence, to receive humanitarian assistance, and to have access to basic services and justice. They have the right to be reunited with family members and to have the remains of their relatives treated with dignity and respect, as well as to livelihoods, education, health care, housing, land and property. They have the right to participate and be informed in disaster preparedness and response, and in decisions towards achieving durable solutions to their displacement. This applies whether they are sheltering in evacuation centres, camps or collective centres, staying with host families and communities, or in informal sites near their original locations. The IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters describe practical ways of ensuring that rights-based measures are taken to protect disaster-affected people.
To meet the growing humanitarian and development challenges which disaster-induced displacement presents, communities, governments, civil society and the international community must be better informed and better prepared to prevent displacement and protect disaster IDPs.
What are we doing?
Since 2009, IDMC has provided annual global estimates of the worldwide scale of internal displacement caused by sudden-onset disasters. Please see below reports for 2008, 2009 and 2010.
IDMC is also providing information and analysis of displacement in specific countries. We are developing knowledge of the nature and patterns of displacement over time caused by different types of disasters, alongside our work on conflict-related displacement. We are highlighting the specific rights and needs of displaced populations and the vulnerabilities of women, children and men who are particularly at risk. And we are raising awareness, building capacity and contributing to the development of policies and guidance for national and international actors in order to advocate for the protection of disaster-displaced populations.
UN ECOSOC 2011: Humanitarian Affairs Segment Side Event, 20 July 2011
IDMC hosted an event with USAID/OFDA and UN OCHA on “Protection and Displacement in Natural Disaster Situations”. Click here for the summary report. More information can be found on the ECOSOC websitehere
Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century, Oslo, 6-7 June 2011
The Nansen conference fostered closer dialogue between more than 220 climate change scientists, development and humanitarian actors and policy makers. It developed better understanding of the links between, and consequences of, climate change and displacement, and strengthened the basis for a well-informed policy discussion on how to respond to displacement in the context of a changing climate. Outcomes included the Nansen Principles to guide responses to these challenges, which will feed into relevant international and regional policy processes. For further information visit:http://www.nansenconference.no/
The event was organized by the Norwegian Government, with NRC and CICERO (Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research). IDMC launched its report on natural hazard-induced displacement in 2009 and 2010, and presented findings of its research on women displaced by flooding in Pakistan.
Pacific Regional Conference and Workshop on Internal Displacement Due to Natural Disasters and Climate Change, Pacific Forum Secretariat, Suva, 3 May 2011
These events strengthened awareness and understanding of the Guiding Principles and protection concerns in natural disaster situations, in the context of case studies and experience from the Pacific island nations. Participants, mostly from the region, included government officials, academics, representatives of regional organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and IFRC/RC, who jointly adopted an outcome statement.
The conference was chaired by the Secretary General of the Pacific Forum and co-organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Brookings Institution. IDMC was a panelist and resource.