(Photo by Ahktar Soomro of Reuters)
Nearly 45 million people across the globe have been displaced from their homes, but, unless they have crossed a border and left their countries, they are not considered refugees, and thus are not entitled to international protection. Their governments, which may or may not be hostile to those displaced, are responsible for protecting and assisting IDPs. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres notes: "it's a very difficult situation in some countries where the government has a very harsh attitude in relation to any attempt ... to deliver protection and assistance to these people." In Sri Lanka, for example, there is growing concern that government camps for IDPs are fast becoming "internment facilities."
A recent survey indicates that there are about 13.6 million refugees in the world--twice that number and more are internally displaced. The same survey finds that Gaza is one of the worst places in the world to be a refugee; Palestinians also comprise the "largest national group that has been displaced for the longest period of time." I hope you've been following Laila El-Haddad's fantastic blog: see her recent photo essay of Palestinian refugees here.
Take AlertNet's Refugee Week Quiz to test your knowledge of refugee issues world-wide. But before you do, go to Gorilla's Guides to learn how to download an album created by 3 Iraqi musicians (and refugees). The proceeds benefit programs serving other refugees in Iraq. You can listen to your new music (as I am, while typing this) and re-experience the interconnectedness of our world.