Press Briefing: Special Adviser on Solutions to Displacement
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Press Briefing: Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement - 21 June 2024

Two years of the Action Agenda on Solutions to Internal Displacement

Robert Piper, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Solutions to Internal Displacement, said that 24 June would mark two years since the launch of the Secretary General’s Action Agenda on Solutions to Internal Displacement. Today, there were 76 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – people who had lost their homes, livelihoods, communities and sometimes also their legal identities. They were “internal” because they had not crossed international borders but had stayed withing their own countries. Some IDPs returned home relatively quickly, usually after natural disasters; others got stuck in protracted displacements of five, ten years or longer, usually displaced by conflicts, such as in Syria and Somalia. Those numbers were growing exponentially, and today there were twice as many IDPs as in 2014. The largest number of IDPs today were in Sudan, informed Mr. Piper.

In 2023, the United Nations had helped as many as 50 million IDPs. The Secretary-General’s Action Agenda aimed to break the long-term displacement pattern; it aimed to help IDPs find a durable solution to their displacement; better prevent new displacement crises from emerging; and ensure those facing displacement receive effective protection and assistance. The Agenda set out 31 concrete commitments, and numerous UN agencies had signed up for it. Mr. Piper was focused on building a coalition to break down the pattern of protracted displacement. Governments in several affected countries, from Colombia o Iraq, had really stepped forward to take the lead, he said. Those governments had introduced new approaches to dealing with internal displacement; they had put money behind their political commitments. In Nigeria, for example, the Borno State had pledged 15 percent of its revenue to this issue over the next four years.

Mr. Piper explained that there were fifteen pilot countries which would help identify the best solutions; there were already commitments to move 8.5 million IDPs to more permanent solutions, based on international standards, which included safe, dignified, and voluntary settlement. Globally, the UN and partners had made progress with supporting those governments; a new financing mechanism had been established, and relevant UN Resident Coordinator offices had been accordingly strengthened. The UN had made a big investment in data systems, which was of critical importance. The visibility of this issue had been lifted globally, stressed Mr. Piper. Several partnerships with regional development banks had been built. The humanitarian community had upgraded its own capacity to respond to the needs of the internally displaced people, from day one onwards. The major deficit today lay with prevention, as numbers of IDPs kept going up, partly caused by natural disasters, partly by conflict. UN was still working with various partners on finding the right level of financing; providing homes and livelihoods were expensive, and a breakthrough there was still needed. The whole of the UN and the whole of national governments needed to be fully engaged on this issue. There was still no forum that brought all relevant actors together and there was no adequate international architecture in place. He appealed to Member States to create a forum to comprehensively address this issue in a more coordinated, cross-sectorial way. All parts of the system ought to come together and establish an adequate governance structure.

More details are available in the June 2024 factsheet.

Responding to questions, Mr. Piper said that the UNHCR and the IOM were by far the two most active agencies dealing with displacement, but they also recognized that this issue demanded a much broader, coordinated action to find long-term solutions for internally displaced people. They could not do it alone, he stressed. An intergovernmental forum that would bring all actors together and meet periodically could be a good way forward, said Mr. Piper responding to another question. This process ought to be led by Member States.

Good morning.
Welcome to the press briefing of the UN Information Service here in Geneva.
Today is Friday, 21st of June.
in addition to welcoming the summer, I have very much
the pleasure to welcome
Robert Piper, the special adviser on solution to Internal Displacement of the UN.
As you know,
we will start exceptionally this briefing at 10 a.m. to listen from Robert
as we marked the two years since the launch of
the Secretary General Action Agenda and Solution to Internal Displacement.
Then you will have a chance to ask questions.
And then we will, uh, go, uh, into the regular press briefing
you. I think you have received the attendance list.
So without further ado, I give the floor to Robert for his
introductory remarks, and then we will take questions.
Thank you very much, Robert.
Thank you, Alexandra. And, uh, and good morning to everyone. Uh, online.
Thank you for making time for this. I'm I I'm grateful.
So June 24th, Monday, Uh, marks as, uh,
Deandra said the second anniversary of the Secretary General's action agenda, uh,
on internal displacement
in the fog of acronyms at the United Nations
internally displaced persons or ID PS are easily lost.
There are 76 million ID PS today, 76 million people who've lost their homes,
lost their livelihoods, lost their communities
in some cases, even lost their identities, their legal identities
because of wars because of disasters like earthquakes and floods,
More and more weather related Uh uh, disasters
They are internal because they have not crossed a border.
Unlike a refugee, of course,
uh, who who has, uh, crossed an international border.
Some internally displaced people get home relatively quickly,
generally after a disaster. People do get home relatively fast,
but tens of millions of displaced people do not get home fast at all.
Rather, they get stuck in protracted displacement for 510 years even longer.
The people that are caught in long term displacement
are typically displaced by conflicts and by wars.
Syria, Somalia,
Colombia, Sudan.
It can take these people years to resettle,
to return home, to maybe resettle somewhere else in their country,
or to integrate locally more and more.
But the numbers are growing exponentially.
There are twice as many internally displaced people
today as there were 10 years ago.
The largest numbers today on the planet sadly are from Sudan,
which added 6 million new ID PS to the existing 3 million ID PS over the last 12 months,
setting a terrible record.
Unfortunately for more ID PS in any one country than we've ever seen before.
The UN S humanitarian teams provided life saving assistance
to 50 million internally displaced persons last year,
but it's clear we need to do better.
The Secretary general's Action agenda on Internal Displacement,
launched two years ago,
represents his commitment to ensure that the UN responds more effectively,
uh, to this challenge
that we find ways of reducing these escalating numbers of new displacements,
that we improve the way in which we respond when our prevention efforts fail.
And we learned to break this pattern,
this increasing pattern of protracted displacement by
moving displaced people to a solution much,
much more quickly.
The action agenda sets out 31 commitments across three axes and
22 different UN agencies signed up to make it a reality.
I was given the task of coordinating this work,
and in particular of trying to figure out how to move this solutions task forward,
how to retrain the way we understand this problem how to build a
coalition around this task of solutions of
breaking this pattern of protracted displacement.
We're at the two year mark, and we can point to some really important progress.
Most importantly, most significantly,
governments in affected countries have really stepped forward to take the lead.
We see incredible political leadership from many countries around the globe,
and it's coming from different places. Governors in, uh, northeast Nigeria
uh, mayors in Colombia, Ministers uh, in Iraq.
It's a mixture, but this political leadership, uh, is really very significant.
These governments have introduced a new
generation of of displacement strategies,
national strategies that are anchored in their development,
plans that really have as their goal how to move people out of displacement.
We've seen these governments put their money behind their political commitments.
The government of Iraq will fund all of this displacement solutions work.
The government of Libya also will fund.
But in Nigeria, for example,
the governor of Borno state has committed 15% of his revenue for the next four years.
Towards this solutions work in Somalia,
Federal state state governments have donated land which
would be sufficient to look after at least 400,000
So, political commitment,
financial commitment behind that political commitment,
we've been working, uh, especially closely with 15 pilot countries to work out.
How do you do this? How do you make the switch to solutions?
What is the role of government? How do you build the financing?
And with our 15 pilot governments so far,
we've got commitments to move 8.5 million ID PS
onto solutions pathways already a a major major breakthrough.
And these solutions pathways are really
established based on international standards.
These governments have absolutely embraced the principle that moving people
home or integrating them locally has to be safe.
Uh, has to be absolutely voluntary, has to be done in a dignified way
and that all options are on the table, local integration, a return home,
whatever the displaced person themselves wants
huge breakthrough at the government, uh, at the country level.
With the leadership of these governments
at a more global level,
the UN and our partners have had to get our act together to
improve our support to these governments as they step forward to lead.
And we've made some big progress there.
We've established a new financing facility for the UN
to accompany governments in this difficult task.
We've placed advisors in the leadership offices of the UN family,
the UN resident coordinators around the world.
In a number of these, uh, countries, we've put sort of very strategic, uh, advisors.
11 UN agencies formally signed up to reform the way in
which their own internal systems respond to this internal displacement crisis.
They've established new staff surge mechanisms.
They've put new money, uh uh, behind this issue.
They've changed accountability so that
displacement internal displacement shows up in
the job descriptions and in the monitoring systems of these agents,
agencies like UNICEF, FA, O, the UN Development programme.
You in habitat, a real galaxy of newcomers, as it were, that are coming to this task.
And we've had a big investment in data last year.
Some of you may have heard of IO M's flagship, uh,
first the State of Solutions report.
But across the the board, huge investments in in data systems that are so important
we've also, I think, lifted the visibility of this issue globally.
It's now discussed not only in humanitarian circles,
but next week at the Peace Building Commission,
A couple of months ago at the World Bank's Global Fragility Forum,
where there was dedicated,
uh uh, discussions.
We've built a partnership with the African
Development Bank with the Asian Development Bank,
the IFI S in particular,
really coming forward also to play their part
in in providing support to these governments.
And finally, as I mentioned at the beginning,
the humanitarian community has also committed itself to really, uh, uh,
upgrade its ability to respond to
this growing phenomenon 50 million people reached
last year.
But the humanitarian system has also just completed a one
year review of how it handles internal displacement situations,
which is laying out a real, uh,
a roadmap of how to make some fundamental changes to the way
in which we respond from day one of a displacement crisis.
Not just, uh, 23 years down the track.
I'm not here to declare victory.
We still have a long way to go and I'm gonna flag three and then I'll I'll I'll finish.
Where are our deficits today?
Number one very clearly on prevention.
The numbers unfortunately speak for themselves today. 76 million.
12 months ago, 71 million.
The numbers keep going up. They are driven by conflicts.
They're driven by natural disasters, natural disasters,
especially weather related disasters.
We have to figure out how to reverse those trends. Otherwise,
there's, uh, uh, just trying to fix solutions at the other end of the process,
obviously, is
not going to, uh, reverse the overall trend.
Number two,
We're working very closely with donors with the banks to
figure out How do we find the right level of financing
to really embark on large scale solutions? This is expensive
when people lose their homes and are displaced somewhere else
and they need to go back and we're offering them
a a solution that is a lasting one. We're not talking about shelters anymore.
We're talking about homes. Homes are expensive and in our solutions plans.
We're seeing country by country.
Typically, the housing piece is the most expensive, but it's only not only housing,
it's livelihoods, its infrastructure.
So the second big challenge is to find
a breakthrough on the financing that can really,
uh, allow us to lift our ambition.
And the third and final one is about the governance of this issue.
We can all agree now. There's this growing consensus
that this issue is not just the short-term emergency issue, but it needs
all of government. And it needs all of the UN to kind of climb in
and play its part, whether it's the climate, uh, people working on loss and damages,
whether it's the development, people working on livelihoods,
whether it's the bank people looking at investing in in remote regions.
But the UN today does not have a forum
that brings this cross section of players together.
Internal displacement is a forgotten issue that falls between the cracks.
It's everyone's problem, and it's No-one's problem at the end of the day.
So the third piece of this puzzle, which we've been pushing very hard,
is for member states to step forward.
OK, now it's back.
Sorry for that. I'm finished.
Sorry for that Colleagues.
I see that in the chart that there was a problem with sound, but it came back.
Maybe you want to just repeat the last point.
Yes, the member states.
as I said, sorry for that. No problem.
As I said, I think three outstanding challenges the first is on prevention.
How do we reverse this trend?
The second is on financing.
How are we going to really escalate the level of financing required,
uh, to meet the ambition of 76 million people in displacement?
And the third is a governance challenge, a challenge to our member states?
We're doing a lot of work inside the UN.
Governments that are affected by displacement are doing tremendous work.
But there's still this gap in our international architecture on this issue.
ID PS keep falling between the cracks. It's
no one's responsibility, and it's everyone's responsibility at the same time,
which obviously doesn't, uh, uh, lend to good accountability.
So, uh,
our our big appeal and the secretary general's
proposal in the action agenda from Day one
was that member states create some kind of forum
which governs this issue in a much more integrated,
uh uh, much more kind of cross sectoral way. We don't need a new agency.
We don't need a big treaty. We don't even need a big new office.
But we need some coherence amongst our
member states that connects the development,
work around livelihood
with the discussions with the banks around infrastructure,
with the teams that are working on loss and damages and the whole climate piece.
All of these parts
of the system need to come together. And the challenge?
Uh, the last challenge, as it were on my list, is to member states,
Uh uh uh. To try and fill this gap in our governance structures.
So let me stop there, Alexander. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Robert, for this, uh, update is incredibly important.
Then when we look at the numbers, so we have about 32 people on the line,
I'll give the floor to whoever wants to. OK, I'll start with Maya.
Maya plans the UN brief.
Yes. Good morning. Thank you, Alexandra, Uh, for taking my question.
Um, Mr Piper,
could you please clarify Because UN HCR
and IOM work with internally displaced populations?
What do you see? Is the challenge there, Uh, for two agencies that work on the issue.
And what are you suggesting?
Could be done further as you mentioned this new perhaps sort of, uh uh,
conference that would address specifics of this, uh,
internally displaced populations.
Um, plight?
Sure. Thank you. That's Myer. I understood. Yes, absolutely.
UN HR and IOM are by far the see the two most active agencies on
on internal displacement and I work very,
very closely with them and with a number of other agencies as well.
But they are the first to recognise that
this requires a much larger coalition of actors
and so the UN Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Really, there's a list of key
uh uh UN players that also need to come to the come to the task.
So IOM UN HCR are are very much at the centre of this.
A lot of their work, particularly UN HCR,
is about that first response with the World Food Programme
and other emergency actors to save lives and stabilise situations.
But they are also the first to recognise UN
HCR that they can't offer a long-term solution to,
uh, an internally displaced person
that's about a home, not a shelter.
That's about addressing long-term livelihoods, re-establish
schools and and health facilities.
It's about compensation and transitional justice. This is beyond.
And so whether it's UN, HCR or other parts of the UN system as well,
everyone is on the same page.
So this requires, uh, a a much larger coalition, uh, of players.
So building on the very important work that humanitarian actors
uh uh uh do but, uh, they can't do it alone.
Indeed. Thank you very much.
Um, looking at the platform are the questions
for Robert.
I don't see hands up,
uh, from other journalists. Give it a
Amelia, you have a follow up?
Yes. Thank you. Yes, I have a follow up. So what do you see?
Would be this conference of sorts or some sort of global summit.
Do you have something already on the agenda or something?
You are still negotiating with country members.
We don't have a specific prescription.
We know there is, Uh uh, right now, very fragmented governance of this issue.
So it's discussed in IOM at UN H ER S board.
it's discussed in the humanitarian segment of the
General Assembly in the Human Rights Council,
but there is no place that brings all of these pieces together,
and in particular brings in the development part of the system
and the peace building part of the system.
We need to join it up if we're going to deliver a more joined up, uh uh,
kind of response.
Our idea is some kind of forum that
is an intergovernmental forum that meets periodically,
not even every year.
Uh, but meets periodically, uh uh,
to allow first and foremost governments
that are affected by internal displacement
to lay out what lessons they've learned, What needs they have,
what expectations they have of of the international system to support them,
but also a place that keeps pressure on the UN family to come together
That celebrates the the work of the of
the international financial institutions as they increasingly,
uh, get involved.
And they really bring an international kind of system together in a much,
much more coherent way.
So we see thousands of people uh uh,
convening on Migration and Development Forum or, uh,
refugee global refugee forums.
We need nothing even on that scale,
despite the fact that we're speaking here about 76 million people.
So our ambition is is much smaller, Uh, even despite the numbers being much larger.
But we need something. It's a gap.
Uh, it's not a part of the global compacts of either Migra,
migrants or migration or or refugees.
So we need something not necessarily a compact either. But we need a forum.
Uh, that brings it together, But I think the secretary general is very clear.
This needs to be led by
member states.
And so, uh,
we're waiting for for that member state leadership to to to make it happen so far.
Uh uh, no real concrete progress.
Thank you very much. If there are no other questions from our journalist online, I
think we can really thank Robert for updating us on this very important issue.
Sorry. There is,
hand up. But it's from an
Is Miladin on the line?
Is that for Robert? I am not sure this is a real handball.
No, I think that's,
No, no, it's not.
If we can visit a colleague that is trying to say something on the technical team,
so thank you very much.
Uh, Robert and we look forward to hear how it will go, how it will develop.
Thanks again.
So, as I said,
we we just interrupt the briefing for a little moment that will allow us to
do some technicalities.
And then we will start again with the programme that we have already sent you.
Thank you. Just one second, please. Thank you.