Thank you Chair,
I have the honor today to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
We thank UNHCR for this opportunity to discuss internal displacement and appreciate the update provided. We note with concern that – as indicated in UNHCR’s recent Global Trends report - almost 60 per cent of the world’s forcibly displaced persons are internally displaced. Furthermore, an additional 5.1 million people have been internally displaced due to natural disasters. This means that despite the fact that IDPs represent the majority of the displaced population worldwide, their needs are much less visible. Therefore, global attention is essential and the EU and its Member States remain firmly committed in doing their part.
Internal displacement creates special needs and vulnerabilities due to the loss of hope, home, land, belongings and livelihoods. Families and community life are often disrupted. Human capital and community resilience become fragile. The COVID-19 pandemic risks further aggravating the situation, limiting access to basic services and threatening livelihoods. This is why we have decided to put in place a strong joint up, people-centered approach at the core of our Team Europe response to the pandemic. It addresses both emergency and longer-term needs of the affected population.
The EU and its Member States have been strongly committed to support protection and address the socio-economic needs of IDPs and local communities. Humanitarian assistance has been consistently provided in most of the conflict-affected countries worldwide over the past 20 years. In addition, we have substantially increased our targeted development financing and dialogue on forced displacement alongside our work to strengthen the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. The objective is to work towards socio-economic inclusion and durable solutions for IDPs, through a whole-of-society approach, involving government, key international partners and other actors from the outset and throughout new and protracted displacement situations. This has led to more sustainable and inclusive approaches, supported by multi-year development funding and geared to supporting local, community-based capacity to respond.
Although it is clear that States bear the primary responsibility for IDP protection and assistance, we fully recognize the catalytic role that the international community can play in supporting States’ in mitigating the causes of forced displacement, establishing perspectives in the region of origin and ensuring a more integrated IDP approach. This is why the EU and its Member States have strongly supported the launch of a High-level Panel on Internal Displacement and its work to raise internal displacement higher on the international political agenda, identify the main challenges linked to the prevention of forced displacement, advance work on protection, rights and participation of internally displaced persons and unlock avenues for sustainable responses and durable solutions. We further welcome that protection, gender, age and diversity, including disability, are cross cutting issues in the identified six workstreams of the Panel. We expect that the Panel will come with ambitious recommendations and a firm focus on durable solutions and socio-economic inclusion – thereby making the difference in the lives of those displaced populations.
Properly addressing internal displacement requires a strong collaborative effort by mandated agencies, with a clear distribution of tasks in line with their respective mandates and their cluster responsibilities. UNHCR has a pivotal role to play in the broader humanitarian system. We therefore appreciate UNHCR’s commitment to contribute in assisting and protecting IDPs. The launch of the Initiative on Internal Displacement, as a follow up to the revised IDP policy, is an important step in this regard. However, stronger synergies with the humanitarian and development systems need to be sought across all operations. We are also looking forward to seeing how this initiative will be operationalized in the coming months so as to bring about positive change in the lives of the internally displaced.
Lastly, we welcome the emphasis on data gathering and analysis. Evidence is crucial to give visibility to IDPs needs and to ensure adequate responses. The UNHCR-World Bank Joint Data Centre is a good example of coordination in this domain. In the same spirit, we encourage the continuation of the collective work done under GP20.