BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Internally Displaced People



Internally displaced people (IDP) are people who are on the run within their countries, but unlike refugees, have not crossed international borders to find safety. IDP are the most vulnerable group of people in the world because they’re stuck in countries where their safety is uncertain, and remain under the care and protection of the government, even if that government caused their displacement. Internal displacement often results when people run around due to fear of persecution for their ethnicity or race, religion, membership of a particular social group and political opinion. It is also caused by natural disasters or made-made events, for example, earthquake, famine, drought, conflicts, disorder, wild fires, development projects and war.

There are millions of internally displaced people around the world. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Geneva, at the end of 2014, about 38 million people worldwide were reportedly displaced internally due to violence.  Of this number, 11 million were newly displaced in the same year – making 2014 a year with the highest record of human displacement, totalling about 30,000 people a day. Iraq suffered the most new displacement, with at least 2.2 million people displaced. Ukraine was also affected by a war which caused the internal displacement of more than 640,000 people.  The IDMC’s 2015 Global Overview further showed that the disproportionate increase in the rate of displacement was as a result of  the prolonged crises in countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria. These five countries alone accounted for over 50% of all new displaced individuals worldwide. So far, Syria has the highest number of displaced people in the world- 40% of the population, approximately 8 million people.

Displaced persons are vulnerable and susceptible to infections; they therefore need help and support in many areas of their lives, especially health. They suffer significantly higher rates of morbidity and mortality, and have higher risks of experiencing harsh, unfair, violent and abusive conditions such as physical attack, sexual abuse, kidnap, hunger and deprivation of basic needs including shelter and health care. It is also very challenging for them to access services related to health, education and other areas due to the lack of finances, housing, security, safe and clean water, basic sanitation and stability. The following health problems have been identified among IDPs in Africa: post-traumatic stress disorders, malnutrition, fever, malaria and acute respiratory infections.

A way to reduce internal displacement is to tackle it’s root causes such as wars, discrimination and insurgency through a combination of diplomacy and democracy, good governance, other political measures. Additionally, a well coordinated and pecuniary emergency preparedness plan, including active surveillance, should be in existence in case disasters occur. Most of the internally displaced people are women and children, who they have an even higher risk of being sexually abused. Due to the high vulnerability of IDP, many international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) use their expertise to protect and assist them.

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