First, ensuring equal rights to documentation, and the resulting access to welfare schemes, such as pensions and social protection is of critical importance.
In addition, understanding the diverse barriers that exist for displaced persons in accessing employment and livelihood opportunities, housing and basic services is a first step towards a strategic and long-term response by local authorities. To date, systematic data and knowledge on the key gaps and challenges, but also opportunities, that displaced persons communities face is either not collected and analysed or not used to a sufficient extent in urban development planning.
Internal displacements are, first and foremost, a human rights issue. They should be addressed as such. Displaced persons are currently facing administrative obstacles preventing their full inclusion. They also encounter issues regarding employment, housing, education, food and health – to only cite a few. The authorities have a primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to displaced persons within their jurisdiction, and displaced persons have the right to request and receive protection and assistance from these authorities.
This recommends that the governments of member States invest in assessing protracted displacement and in what constitutes durable solutions for displaced persons.
There are several critical areas in which local authorities play a key role in facilitating and promoting equal access to and protection of displaced persons.
a. Promote the welfare of displaced persons and protect their freedoms and rights, providing them with equal access to basic services and infrastructure as local residents on the one hand and recognise their right to return to their places of origin and to their homes or places of habitual residence, in safety and with dignity on the other.
b. Acknowledge that displaced persons form a heterogeneous group with varying needs and adapt their approach depending on the target group, keeping such needs in mind when developing policies and initiatives, with particular emphasis on women and vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied minors and the elderly.
c. Raise awareness among the host populations regarding the plight of displaced persons and draw attention to the fact that even if the arrival of displaced persons might put a burden on local resources in the short-term, their
presence can also be an opportunity for host communities.
d. Take appropriate action to fight prejudice against displaced persons, prevent violence, promote inter-cultural understanding and ensure social cohesion and provide psychological assistance to displaced persons when necessary.
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