High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement
Consultation on The Peace and Security Dimensions of Internal Displacement
New York, 11 March 2021
The Holy See is pleased to participate in today’s consultation on the peace and security dimensions of internal displacement and would like to thank the Co-Chairs of the High-Level Panel and the speakers for their presentations. The struggles of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are, as Pope Francis recently recalled, “an often-unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.” Addressing internal displacement coherently and effectively will require shared responsibility and genuine cooperation by the international community. As its contribution to this consultation, the Holy See would like to make the following three points:
First, the Holy See encourages States, while respecting national sovereignty, to design a clearer system of responsibility for IDPs in order to ensure their protection, to achieve durable solutions and, ultimately, to save lives. In particular, States should consider adopting legislation that recognizes IDPs, while promoting policies that provide them with the protections they deserve, consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law and the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Furthermore, IDPs are, by definition, displaced within their own countries and have the same rights as other citizens. Therefore, legislation should encourage their integration back into society, including through the promotion and provision of security, housing, employment and livelihoods, education, and the preservation of family unity. This would greatly contribute to protecting IDPs, and provide the foundation for more durable solutions.
Second, early warning and prevention systems for internal displacement will require increased coordination among existing mechanisms, in line with their mandates. Going forward, the Holy See believes these mechanisms must be guided by the principle that all people have the right to life, liberty and security in their country of origin and should be able to remain in their homes in peace and security without the threat of being forcibly displaced. In conflict situations, however, IDPs should be able to relocate and integrate freely. In addition, greater resolve is needed to ensure that IDP camps, when no other solution is possible, are transitional, located in safe areas, and are secure from conflict. All camps should be safe places, including for women and children, lest they become places of desperation and desolation.
Third and finally, ways to promote engagement and partnerships with religious organizations and faith-based communities should be strengthened and encouraged. Around the globe, these organizations and communities are often on the frontlines, assisting both the forcibly displaced and the local populations that host them, providing them with food and housing, psychological and spiritual assistance. In conflict or post-conflict situations, faith-based organizations, together with other key stakeholders, are often among the few providing IDPs with sound and reliable information and working with national and local authorities to promote reconciliation among ethnic and religious groups.
In conclusion, to respond not only to the challenges posed by internal displacement but also its root causes, the international community must work toward reconciliation and sustainable development within countries, especially in those areas of the world where situations of conflict and humanitarian crises continue to increase.
Thank you, Mr. Chair
 Pope Francis, Message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees.