Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to the members of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography for agreeing to hold, together with my office and with the valuable support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, this seminar on internal displacement in Europe. Regional organisations have an increasingly important role to play in addressing crises of internal displacement. As such, this seminar constitutes a welcome opportunity to reflect upon and discuss existing and future measures for responding to the protection, assistance and development needs of Europe’s internally displaced and the role of the Council of Europe in this respect.
Internal displacement caused by violent conflicts, systematic violations of human rights and other traumas constitutes a truly global crisis, affecting an estimated 20 to 25 million people in over forty countries. Between three to four million internally displaced persons are found in Europe in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.