The Need for a More Focused Response: European Donor Policies Toward Internally Displaced Persons

The Brookings Institution-CUNY Project on Internal Displacement, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees have published a report that urges the European Union (EU) and European countries individually to become more specifically and actively engaged in assisting and protecting internally displaced persons and to address the causes and consequences of internal displacement. An estimated 20 to 25 million people are currently forcibly displaced within their own countries, and struggling to survive.

The report recommends that the EU establish “a clear focal point” within the European Commission to bring together the different “policy strands” on internal displacement issues and provide “leadership” in this area. It also calls upon the EU to “adopt a less cautious and more assertive approach” to the issue of internal displacement internationally. It calls upon the EU to go beyond its traditional focus on food, medicine, and shelter to “advocate for the physical security and human rights” of displaced populations. The involvement of all 15 EU Member States is called for to promote greater protection and assistance for internally displaced persons.

Further, the report also points out a Eurocentric bias in European humanitarian donor policies-for example, responding generously to internal displacement in Europe (as in the Balkans), but quite inadequately to similar problems in Africa and other regions. “The EU should demonstrate a more even-handed donor approach to issues of internal displacement throughout the world,” the report recommends, “so that Eurocentric bias in funding is succeeded by a more generous global approach.”

Finally, the report notes the “negative impact” of European governments’ “defensive and deterrent asylum and migration policies on global respect for protection principles,” and argues that the “moral authority” of European states to speak on internal displacement is often “clearly jeopardized” by their “poor reputation” with regard to their national refugee and asylum policies.

The report, written by Philip Rudge, examines European donor response to internal displacement in Colombia, Sudan, Chechnya/Ingushetia, and Afghanistan, and focuses especially on the European Union per se, as well as the United Kingdom (an EU member) and Norway (not an EU member).

View complete report