The U.N. refugee agency is launching a $90 million appeal to assist millions of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Uganda.  Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.

There are nearly 25 million people displaced in their own countries because of conflict.  The U.N. refugee agency takes care of more than half that number, but this particular $90 million appeal is focused on only seven of its 25 operations.

Spokesman Ron Redmond says his agency deals with camp management, emergency shelter, and protection for the internally displaced, as it does with refugees.

"Although in IDP situations it can be extremely difficult, because when you are in a country that is in conflict, for example, you are trying to cope with the violence that is taking place and trying to work sometimes in a very difficult and dangerous environment, as we are seeing in Kenya," he noted. 

Internally displaced people have not crossed an international border and are not entitled to the same protections afforded refugees under international law.

Redmond says the seven countries included in the appeal are in different phases of displacement.  He notes the operation in Liberia, as well as in most other countries in West Africa, is scaling down as peace returns and more refugees and displaced people return to their places of origin.

But other conflicts are of greater concern.  He says one of the most worrisome is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"In all, there are 800,000 people internally displaced just in North Kivu and about 400,000 of them in just over the past several months," he added.  "And, that is an extremely difficult and dangerous environment in which to work and you will notice that a large proportion of the funding in this particular appeal goes to the DRC.  Also in Chad, in Eastern Chad, there is increasing displacement of the local population in a conflict that has spilled over from Darfur." 

Redmond says the UNHCR cares for 230,000 refugees from Darfur and tens of thousands internally displaced people in Darfur, and is also assisting 180,000 internally displaced Chadians.  He says the operation in Darfur will be the focus of a separate upcoming appeal.