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UN refugee agency identifies new ways to help internally displaced people

UN refugee agency identifies new ways to help internally displaced people

Ruud Lubbers
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers today identified steps for a more coordinated international effort to help the world's estimated 20-25 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Speaking at an international conference on IDP issues in Oslo, Norway, Mr. Lubbers said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) was ready to continue its IDP-related work, but that other humanitarian agencies should also get more involved.

The High Commissioner said UNHCR's involvement in crises of internal displacement, within a collective UN mechanism, should depend on three basic criteria: formal authorization from the Secretary-General, the consent of the State involved, and the availability of adequate financial resources.

While emphasizing the primary responsibility of States to protect their own citizens, Mr. Lubbers stressed the importance of a clear system for allocating responsibility among UN and other humanitarian agencies for the provision of help to internally displaced people in dire need. He also said humanitarian involvement in internal displacement situations must be accompanied by an effort to resolve the political problems that cause the crises in the first place.

According to UNHCR, the many civil wars and internal conflicts of the past decade have led to an explosion in internal displacement. Currently, internally displaced people account for roughly one-fourth of the agency's more than 21 million beneficiaries.