Give Hope to Internally Displaced People

by Gerry Lynch last modified 20 Sep, 2018 07:01 PM

Bishop Nicholas joins international and interfaith leaders calling for IDPs to be given the same protections as refugees

Bishop Nicholas has joined dozens of faith leaders in urging heads of state not to turn their backs on the world’s more than forty million internally displaced people.

Their call comes ahead of the creation of the new Global Compact on Refugees, an international instrument that will be signed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. The Compact applies only to people who have been forced to flee across borders and ignores the plight of those displaced within their own countries.

While global leaders are signing up to supporting refugees, the vast majority of people displaced within their own countries’ borders are often woefully ignored and abandoned by their countries’ leaders.

Internally displaced people remain in their own countries but have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and ‘natural’ disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and left to fend for themselves. 

“South Sudan, for example, with which we in this Diocese have strong links, is one of the countries with the largest number of internally displaced people”, said Bishop Nicholas, “Latest UN figures show 1.74 million internally displaced people, or one in seven of the population

“In some cases they are even more vulnerable than those who have fled to refugee camps in neighbouring people, where at least there is security and usually some structure to provide shelter, food, and medicines, even if they are often very basic. Many of the internally displaced people live in areas where there is still fighting and delivering relief can at times be too difficult and dangerous for aid agencies.

“Despite this, they lack the support and protection that international law gives refugees – people who have crossed international borders.”

According to the faith leaders’ letter, if the world is to realise the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, then the international community must ensure that internally displaced people are neither forgotten nor ignored.

Amanda Mukwashi, CEO, Christian Aid, who recently visited Salisbury was another signatory of the letter. She said, If not at the United Nations, then where will the voice of internally displaced women, men and children be heard? Where can their issues be dealt with? Who will bring together global efforts and resources so that they are not left behind?”

The letter was published ahead of the UN Advisory Council on Faith’s inaugural meeting on 21stSeptember in New York. It was signed by many Muslim and Jewish leaders and relief agencies as well as Christians from a range of denominations and continents.

The full text of the letter and list of signatories can be read here.

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