Hard Cases: Internal Displacement in Turkey, Burma and Algeria

Roberta Cohen
Roberta Cohen Former Brookings Expert, Co-Chair Emeritus - Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

December 1, 1999

In some countries, the internally dispalced are beyond the reach of international humanitarian organizations.

Although the displaced populations concerned may be in dire need of assistance and protection, and could benefit immeasurably from outside support, few or no steps are taken, or strategies developed, to gain access to them. Whereas conflict is the inhibiting factor in some cases, in others, the governments concerned do not request aid and by and large reject any that is offered. Only rarely does the UN Security Council deem such situations to be threats to international peace and security and demand entry.

Leading examples of governments that successfully bar international involvement with their displaced populations are Turkey, Burma and Algeria. The situations in the three countries are, of course, quite different. In Turkey and Burma, governments have deliberately uprooted people in order to destroy their possible links to insurgency movements. In Algeria, displacement is a byproduct of conflict, primarily between the government and Islamist insurgent groups.

View complete article