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International Review of the Red Cross, 2009, No. 875 – Displacement

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The International Review of the Red Cross is a quarterly published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Cambridge University Press. 


Texts published by the Review reflect the views of the author alone and not necessarily those of the ICRC or of the Review. Only texts bearing an ICRC signature may be ascribed to the institution.

Issue No. 875 - 2009

Theme Displacement

Download pdfPDF 2 MB Whether within or across borders, the displacement of persons remains a pressing humanitarian concern. Millions of people are separated from their homes, livelihoods and families each year by armed conflict or other catastrophes, and frequently suffer severe abuses and hardship while in flight or at their place of refuge. This issue aims to give a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon of displacement: its causes, its scale, and the challenges faced by the people affected, as well as the response of government authorities and humanitarian actors (particularly the ICRC and the Federation). The role of relevant normative frameworks in protecting displaced persons and migrants is also examined, as well as the tension between security concerns and legal standards.

Table of contents



  • Interview with William Lacy Swing
    William Lacy Swing is the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Previously, he held the office of Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003 – 2008) and Western Sahara (2001 – 2003), and headed the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. This followed a long career in the United States Department of State, during which he served as ambassador six times.
  • The ICRC's response to internal displacement: strengths, challenges and constraints
    Jakob Kellenberger
    The often highly complex and fluid nature of displacement on the ground makes coverage of internally displaced persons' (IDPs') needs a difficult task, and a flexible response is required to fit different contexts. In identifying and responding to needs, the ICRC looks at the whole context in which internal displacement occurs, as well as all the people affected.
  • Internal displacement; global trends in conflict induced displacement
    Nina Birkeland
    At the end of 2008, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) found that the number of people internally displaced by conflict, generalised violence or human rights violations stood at a ten-year high of 26 million worldwide. This article presents the findings of the IDMC's latest survey on trends in internal displacement, challenges faced by displaced populations, and measures taken to address these.
  • Fleeing war and relocating to the urban fringe – issues and actors: the cases of Khartoum and Bogotá
    Agnès de Geoffroy
    This article presents the findings of a long-term study comparing the phenomenon of displacement in Khartoum and Bogota. While the issues faced in these two contexts are similar, widely differing policy decisions have been taken. This has impacted on the evolution of the two situations, as well as the responses of various actors.
  • Internal displacement in Colombia: humanitarian, economic and social consequences in urban settings and current challenges
    Angela Consuelo Carillo
    This article gives an overview of internal displacement and the IDP assistance system in Colombia. It analyses the particular difficulties faced by IDPs moving from rural to urban areas, as well as the challenges posed to governmental and humanitarian actors by the IDP influx into cities.
  • Without order, anything goes? The prohibition of forced displacement in non-international armed conflict
    Jan Willms
    Article 17(1) of Additional Protocol II and customary international humanitarian law seem only to prohibit the "ordering" of displacement in non-international armed conflict. However, by interpreting these norms in light of State practice, the author concludes that forced displacement is prohibited regardless of whether it is ordered or not. Nevertheless, an order may still be required to constitute the crime of forced displacement under the Rome Statute.
  • Humanitarian assistance to migrants, irrespective of their status – Towards a non-categorical approach
    Thomas Linde
    The 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent recommended that the Movement take an inclusive approach to addressing the humanitarian dimension of migration, irrespective of the status of the migrants concerned. This is a departure from humanitarian organizations' traditional prioritisation of migrants according to legal and institutional categories.
  • Immigration controls and free movement in Europe
    Didier Bigo
    Effective control of cross-border activities is nearly impossible in market-economy regimes which have to keep their borders open to goods, capital and services. This article exposes the tensions between a legal system predicated on openness and a groundswell of security-driven rhetoric justifying coercive and ostracizing practices against foreigners.

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