World leaders must protect 40 million internally displaced

Crop displaced

The vast majority of people displaced within their own countries’ borders are often woefully ignored and abandoned 

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20th September 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Faith leaders are urging world heads of state not to turn their backs on the planet’s 40.5 million internally displaced people. 

Their call comes ahead of the creation of the new Global Compact on Refugees, an international instrument that will be signed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month.

The Compact applies only to people who have been forced to flee across borders and ignores the plight of those displaced within their own countries. 

While global leaders are signing up to supporting refugees, the vast majority of people displaced within their own countries’ borders are often woefully ignored and abandoned by their countries’ leaders. 

More than 57 leaders from across the global faiths have signed an open letter challenging UN member governments about the exclusion of the 40.5 million people from the new Global Compact.

Internally displaced people remain in their own countries but have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and left to fend for themselves.  

Despite having no place to call home, they lack the support and protection that international law gives refugees – people who have crossed international borders. 

According to the faith leaders’ letter, if the world is to realise the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, then the international community must ensure that internally displaced people are neither forgotten nor ignored.

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: “Two-thirds of people forced from their home remain within their borders. They are fleeing war, drought and persecution; yet are denied the official protection given to refugees.

“It is vitally important that action is taken at the highest level, and we are pleased to see support across faith communities for legal change to help safeguard millions of the world’s most vulnerable people”.

Naser Haghamed, chief executive of Islamic Relief Worldwide, added: “My family and I had to flee our home in Eritrea because of conflict when I was 13 years old, I will never forget what happened.

“We fled on foot and walked for days just to reach the border. And yet, I was lucky compared to what displaced people have to endure today.”