Internally displaced persons

The FDFA contributes to strengthening the political will and capacity of the governments concerned to ensure both that the rights of internally displaced persons are respected and that sustainable solutions are put in place.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have had to abandon everything they own because of military conflicts or natural disasters and often face humanitarian emergencies. They lack food, sanitation facilities, medical care and adequate accommodation.  They are often located in areas to which humanitarian actors have limited access.

Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons have not crossed an international border and therefore enjoy neither special legal status nor specific protection measures. The responsibility for ensuring that the human rights of internally displaced persons are protected and respected falls primarily to the states concerned. Not all governments of states in which people have been internally displaced are willing or able to protect internally displaced persons and to afford them their rights.

The UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (1998) provide a normative framework for dealing with internally displaced persons, but are not legally binding. The only legally binding instrument is the Kampala Convention adopted by the African Union in 2009. This recognises rights and set outs guarantees for internally displaced persons on the continent of Africa. 

Switzerland is helping to ensure that internal displacement is included in the political agenda of international organisations and supports projects providing assistance for internally displaced persons in certain countries. Governments of states that have internally displaced persons on their territory are encouraged, and, if necessary provided with financial and personnel support, to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in their national policy.