Displacement in the Muslim World: A Focus on Afghanistan and Iraq

Elizabeth Ferris,
Elizabeth Ferris
Elizabeth Ferris Former Brookings Expert, Research Professor, Institute for the Study of International Migration - Georgetown University
Hady Amr,
Hady Amr, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution
Hady Amr Former Brookings Expert
Khalid Koser, and
Khalid Koser Executive Director - Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund
Susanne Schmeidl
Susanne Schmeidl Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University (Australia)

February 16, 2009


Throughout the Muslim world, millions of people have been forced to flee their homes and communities for many reasons: civil wars, interstate conflicts, U.S.-led military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, tsunamis, earthquakes, and a multitude of other disasters. Many have crossed national borders and live in nearby countries as refugees. Many more remain within the borders of their country as internally displaced persons (IDPs). Some are displaced only temporarily and are able to return to their communities when conflicts are resolved or flood waters have receded, but most live many years as refugees or IDPs. For some, displacement has lasted for generations. The statistics are detailed in the appendix to this paper.

This massive dislocation of people affects both national development plans and individual human development. It impacts national security and personal security. It affects relationships between neighboring countries, UN Security Council discussions, and peace processes. In short, understanding— and resolving—displacement is central to development, peace, and security.