Guterres launches an Action Plan to prevent internal displacement

A family fleeing the conflict in the city of Mariupol arrives at the Liviv train station in Ukraine.

At a time in human history when a record number of people have been forced to move within their countries due to conflict, disaster and the climate crisis, the General secretary of the UN launched this Friday its Plan of Action on Internal Displacementeither.

António Guterres stressed that the number of internally displaced persons has doubled in the last ten yearsand that women, children and marginalized groups are often the most affected.

“Many have been here for years…even decades…and often (have been displaced) multiple times. Others have been forced to flee more recently.

In just three months, the war in Ukraine expelled thirteen million people from their homes and communities, of whom almost two thirds are still in Ukraine,” he emphasized.

UNICEF/Juan Haro

A family fleeing the conflict in the city of Mariupol arrives at the Liviv train station in Ukraine.

A government problem that we all have to solve

Based on the report of High Level Group on Internal Displacementthe Action Plan sets out 31 commitments made by the United Nations system to better resolve, prevent and address internal displacement crises.

The document also includes calls to member states, international financial institutions, the private sector and other relevant actors.

The Action Agenda on Internal Displacement has three general objectives:

  • Help IDPs find a durable solution to their displacement
  • Further prevent the emergence of new displacement crises
  • Ensuring that displaced people receive effective protection and assistance

“Let me state it clearly: the duty to end displacement falls first and foremost on governments. However, we all have the responsibility to act”, Guterres pointed out in a video message for the launch of the Plan.

The Secretary General indicated that the situation of internally displaced persons requires a comprehensive approach that combines development, peacebuilding, human rights, climate action, and disaster risk reduction efforts.

Finally, he highlighted the relevant role that climate change plays and will play in eradications and recalled that, if immediate measures are not taken, the World Bank estimates that 216 million people in six regions could be forced to internally move by 2050.

“Together, we can alleviate human suffering and offer a better future to internally displaced people around the world,” the Secretary-General said hopefully.

The task of the resident coordinators will be very important

At a press conference, the newly appointed special adviser to the Secretary General for Solutions to Internal Displacement, Robert Piper, explained that his role will serve to mobilize governments, international financial institutions, the private sector and civil society.

“This will not be easy, obviously change cannot be achieved unless all the actors show a very strong will to work differently. But I am confident that by working together differently, it will be possible to make real progress,” he predicted.

Piper explained that during the last five years he has established the new system of resident coordinators of the Organization and defined himself as a person who works in the field of development.

“So I’ve been managing our 130 resident coordinators and 15 or 20 of them are absolutely crucial to this thing. Some are engaged. Most are not. All of them, they need some support to be able to do it”, he described.

The special envoy recalled that the Secretary General previously worked as High Commissioner for the UN Refugee Agency and that knows very closely the problem of internal displacement.

“We have a lot of data on what needs to be done. Our challenge is to translate all this great analysis into action and, in practice, this means finding ways to make the Organization work together”, he specified.

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