Resolving internal displacement and preventing future displacement is inextricably linked to achieving lasting peace. On one hand, unresolved problems of displacement may cause instability and thus threaten peacebuilding efforts. On the other hand, durable solutions, particularly return, cannot be achieved for internally displaced persons as long as there is a lack of security; property is not restored; and conditions for sustainable solutions are not in place.
Today, there are some 25 million internally displaced persons in over 50 countries worldwide who have been forced to leave their communities by conflictThe total number of IDPs far exceeds the world’s ten million refugees. IDPs also often have particular vulnerabilities that distinguish them both from refugees and other war-affected civilians and that need specific attention in peace processes and peacebuilding. The process of peacebuilding is multi-faceted, involving re-establishing security and law and order; reconstruction and economic rehabilitation; reconciliation and social rehabilitation; and political transition to creating more accountable governance structures and institutions. The ways in which IDPs benefit from these processes may well affect the success of country-wide peacebuilding initiatives. For example, if the situation in communities of origin is not perceived as safe by displaced persons, they will not return. Or if they do return, they may move again if security is inadequate. Similarly, if reconstruction and economic rehabilitation are not sufficient to enable the displaced to resume economic livelihoods, return will not be sustainable. Experience has shown that IDPs who do return can play an important role in rebuilding their homes and communities and thus in contributing to the economic development of the country. Political transitions need to take into account the particular needs of IDPs, for example to enable them to vote on interim political arrangements and to participate in the political life of the country – even before they return to their communities of origin. Finally, issues of reconciliation are closely related to issues of justice and to demands for restitution or compensation for losses which have been experienced. The way in which these issues are resolved will have a major impact on the sustainability of peace in the country. Helping displaced populations to return and reintegrate can simultaneously address the root causes of a conflict and help prevent further displacement. Specifically: the return of displaced populations can be an important signifier of peace and the end of conflict; return can play an important part in validating the post-conflict political order, for example by legitimizing elections; and returnees can help to rebuild and revitalize local economies. Furthermore, in many countries, whether willingly or unwillingly, some IDPs have become party to the conflict, and their inclusion is therefore necessary for conflict-resolution. On the other hand, returns that are not well prepared and managed may trigger new tensions with local communities
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