• Afiya Najla

How Does Internal Displacement Affect Children?


“The UN wasn’t created to take mankind into paradise, but rather to save humanity from hell” -Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary-general of the United Nations from 1953-1961.


To restate his words, every human being has the right to a safe life free of external and internal threats. All facilities can be met in developed nations, but the fate of individuals caught in the midst of armed conflict, situations of widespread violence, human rights violations, and natural or man-made calamities will be wildly different. They no longer have access to full services and shelter in the country they call home, and instead must fend for themselves, which is known as being internally displaced. Internally displaced persons are commonly confused with other terminology such as asylum seekers, migrants, and refugees, therefore few people are aware of them. Internally displaced persons according to UNICEF are “persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border”.


Based on data compiled by UNICEF, in 2019 as many as 45,699 were included in the category of internally displaced people and the majority of 19,709 were from the Africa region. Internal displacement has a significant impact on children, but this is rarely mentioned. According to UNHCR, nearly 31 million children are being forced to flee within their own countries. The government's intentional revocation of human rights by the government for ethnic, political, religious reasons or even a counterinsurgency campaign or reasons such as civil wars along racial, ethnic, linguistic or religious lines is the reason why they are called internally displaced people. Their families and communities are typically linked to rebel groups or opponents of the prevailing political party, and are viewed as a threat. Competition over resources often leads to violence and the cruelty of each individual is increasingly visible and can lead to being internally displaced. Causes mentioned before are something that UNHCR digs into about internally displaced persons specially children.


Discussion on several impacts such as poverty, survival and health, education, and protection and security are the focus of this article. Poverty is the first concern. Internally displaced children are frequently found living with families who are more likely to lose their jobs or suffer economic setbacks. Survival and health are also becoming the second concern in areas where children are neglected, vacant water inlets, and extreme overcrowding are common. Government efforts such as providing clean water and adequate food are still far more than enough to meet each of their needs. Not only are they physical, but the mental health of internally displaced children is still something the government and the UN need to work-on in terms of prevention and treatment. The third area of concern is children's education, where they are frequently found outside of the classroom, and the risk of falling behind is definitely something they face. Internally displaced children face challenges such as limited access to classrooms, difficulty registering for education, and language barriers. The final concern is the protection and security of internally displaced children. The economic downturn is the cause of more children working, marrying and becoming pregnant, being trafficked, and being sexually exploited. It is not uncommon for these children to face discrimination and xenophobia, which raises concerns not only for families but also for third parties to intervene. There are many internally displaced children who require our assistance as humans. Efforts are being made not only by the United Nations as a larger authority, but we as individuals can offer aide to internally displaced children wherever they are.


 

Speaking Plainly:

  • An internally displaced person is person who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border.

  • Poverty, survival and health, education, and protection and security are several areas that affect children who are internally displaced.