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New Report Find Millions Forced From Homes by War, Abuse


A new report finds more than 8,000 people flee their homes every day because of civil wars and human rights abuses. The report released in Geneva by the Norwegian Refugee Council estimates 25 million people are internally displaced in some 50 countries around the world.

Last year, the report says, three million people were displaced by war and abuse. It says Africa is the worst affected continent. It hosts more than half of the world's 25 million internally displaced people. It says Sudan alone accounts for some six million IDP's, including nearly two million uprooted by war in the Darfur region.

The report cites Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Iraq as other countries with large internally displaced populations.

Refugees, who are people who have crossed international borders, are entitled to protection and assistance under international law. No such rights exist for people who flee their homes, but remain inside their own countries.

Representative of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Elisabeth Rasmussen, says governments are supposed to be responsible for the care and well being of their own people. But, in most cases, she says governments do not protect their citizens.

"In some countries, we even see the national governments being those who displace their people,” she said. “And, I can mention Burma and Colombia as two examples. In Colombia, it is not the government per se, but it is the military and not the government."

Ms. Rasmussen says there are some cases where IDPs have been living in a state of homelessness for 60 years. And, there are many more cases where, for political reasons, IDPs have been forced to live in a state of limbo for 20 years.

Georgia and Azerbaijan are two such examples. She notes, in some countries, IDPs are completely forgotten.

"Examples of that is Guinea, where the international community is giving support to the refugees and completely ignoring the internally displaced people. In Rwanda and Guatemala, the international community has simply slashed the IDP's off the list. They do not appear on any statistics. But, we know that people who were displaced because of the conflict have not returned to their area of origin. They are not integrated. So, therefore, there is no solution for them," she added.

The U.N.'s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, says the problem could be eased through the use of a so-called standby system. He says at least 100 well trained people from various regions around the world should be made readily available to go to vulnerable areas to provide protection and assistance.

"Not by being human shields against armed militia,” he noted. “But, for example trying to set up ways by which women can collect firewood out of the camps so they are not raped. Or ways in which specific cases can be so well documented that national authorities cannot anymore ignore, thereby have to take some kind of action."

The report notes there are more than twice as many IDP's as refugees, who now number less than 10 million. And, yet, it says internally displaced people remain the most neglected and forgotten people in the world.

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