Making IDPs Visible Through Data and Evidence-Based Activities


Dear Colleagues,

Globally there are some 48 million people internally displaced in the world (see UNHCR Global Trends 2020). IDPs form the largest group of forcibly displaced people, but the attention given to this group is often very limited in the public discourse on forced displacement. The good news is that we can observe growing international attention to this vulnerable group: for example, in 2019 UNHCR released a Policy covering all the aspects of its engagement in situation of internal displacement; in the same year the UN Secretary-General appointed a High-Level Panel which will come out with their report today (September 29); and recently, the World Bank published a paper outlining its approach to conflict-induced internal displacement.

The Joint Data Center’s Literature Review Update this month focuses predominantly on some important academic and policy contributions on IDPs. The five articles summarized here present evidence on the socioeconomic conditions of IDPs and their host communities in different contexts, from West Africa, to Middle East countries, to South America. The variety of topics and countries covered is a testimony to the global relevance and breadth of the phenomenon of internal displacement.

Since its inception, the JDC has promoted activities devoted to a deeper understanding of the needs, living conditions, and perspectives of IDPs. Such engagement has materialized in a diversified portfolio of data-related projects, some of which have already led to concrete outcomes.

For example, the JDC actively and financially supports the work of the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) in its implementation of the international recommendations on refugee and IDP statistics. This has led to the publication of the International Recommendations on Internally Displaced Persons Statistics (IRIS), officially endorsed by the United Nation Statistical Commission in March 2020, which amongst other things tries to offer a (statistical) common definition of what makes an IDP.

IRIS and its implementation will be among the topics discussed during a session jointly organized by the JDC and the EGRIS Secretariat at the forthcoming UN World Data Forum. The event, titled “Making the most vulnerable visible: Data gaps and official statistics on forced displacement”, will take place on Monday, October 4, at 3pm CET / 9am EST, and will feature the participation of senior officials from the governments of Colombia, Somalia and Ukraine, as well as the director for data at the World Bank. You are cordially invited to join the session by registering at the UN World Data Forum website.

IDPs also feature in several data collection efforts promoted by the Center, in different countries, such as Yemen, Somalia, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Furthermore, they represent the main population of interest in several of the High Frequency Phone Surveys that the JDC is supporting, in collaboration with the World Bank, UNHCR and other partners to provide insights on the socioeconomic experience of forcibly displaced populations and their hosts during COVID-19. In this respect, a recently released report shows how, in comparison to non-displaced Iraqi households, IDPs in the Northern Region of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have faced severe challenges in relation to the consumption of adequate diets, and a large proportion of them had to rely on consumption-based coping strategies to deal with food scarcity. The welfare of IDPs living outside camp-settings is particularly concerning.

Colombia is among the countries with the highest number of IDPs worldwide. The country has also experienced a very large influx of displaced Venezuelans. The combination of these phenomena makes this a highly relevant country in relation to research and policy actions on forced displacement. The next Research Conference on Forced Displacement, organized by the JDC in collaboration with the Universidad Los Andes of Bogotá and the World Bank, will offer an opportunity for exploring the most recent advancements in quantitative studies on forced displacement, with a specific focus on research on IDPs. The final program of the conference, taking place in January 2022, will be announced shortly on our website, together with details on the conference format and logistics.

As always, we welcome feedback and suggestions on the Newsletter, for future editions of the Quarterly Digest or papers to be included in the Literature Review Update. Please don’t hesitate to contact Zara Sarzin ([email protected]) or Domenico Tabasso ([email protected]) directly.


Yours sincerely,

Björn Gillsäter

Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement