Displacement is a life-changing event. As the painful experience of displacement is often forced and irreversible, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) urgently need to be able to continue or resume a normal life by achieving durable solutions that help them overcome the obstacles and difficulties of displacement. Families who are displaced have a right to a durable solution and often need assistance in this, which is where the authorities, and humanitarian actors play a role. The authorities have a duty and responsibility to create conditions and provide the means to allow the displaced to return voluntarily, in safety and dignity, to their homes and areas of origin, or to resettle in other areas of the country voluntarily.
Securing permanent solutions for the displaced is also in the interest of the state, as leaving the displaced in a state of continuous marginalization without reaching a permanent solution may become a challenge and an obstacle to stability, community peace, recovery, and reconstruction in the long term.
Providing durable solutions is related to all stakeholders, from central and local authorities, as well as humanitarian actors, to work with each other to identify appropriate methods and activities to assist the displaced, and to define criteria that help determine the effectiveness of durable solutions. Humanitarian actors provide support to the government in this work and provide vital assistance to displaced families to facilitate long term solutions.
What is meant by durable solutions?
It is the process of stabilizing and providing livelihoods that ensure that a person obtain their basic rights without discrimination. It often comes after suffering from conflicts and wars that produce huge numbers of affected people, who need assistance to ensure the preservation of their freedoms, dignity, and security.
When a durable solution is achievable?
Durable solutions are reached to, when the displaced, persecuted or refugees do not receive the necessary assistance and protection needs related to the conditions of their displacement and asylum, as these durable solutions enable them to enjoy human rights without discrimination or any action that could cause them harm or harm resulting from their displacement their suffering.
How a durable solution can be achieved?
A durable solution can be achieved through different ways:
Firstly, a sustainable reintegration at the place of origin which means when a return is made by the IDPs to their original place of residence.
Secondly, a sustainable local integration in areas where internally displaced persons take refuge.
Thirdly, a sustainable integration in another part of the country (settlement elsewhere in the country), for example in another governorate.
What are the key principles that guide the search for durable solutions?
Providing permanent solutions for the displaced is a primary responsibility and duty that the authorities must bear to a large extent, and after that comes the role of humanitarian organizations and agencies as a complementary role. The following are some of the facilities and resources that must be available by the concerned authorities:
The authorities and governments should facilitate and support rapid and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance, as well as the humanitarian agencies that assist the displaced in achieving durable solutions.
The needs, rights, and legitimate interests of the displaced must be the main points that guide all policies and decisions on durable solutions.
All relevant and concerned parties must respect the right of the displaced to take a voluntary decision on the type of durable solutions they see fit.
The absence of the option to return when selecting the displaced for local integration or resettlement and residence elsewhere (in another governorate) should not be considered a waiver of their right to return.
Under no circumstances should IDPs be encouraged or compelled to return or move to their places of origin where their life, safety, freedom, or health would be at risk.
IDPs seeking a durable solution must not be discriminated against on grounds related to their displacement. Likewise, populations and communities (re)integrating IDPs, and their needs may be comparable, not to be neglected in comparison to IDPs.
IDPs who have reached one of the durable solutions enjoy the protection of international human rights law and humanitarian law when they need protection.
What are the criteria for successful durable solutions?
It is very important to take situations and contexts in consideration to apply the criteria for durable solutions. Those criteria could connect and overlap such as in this example of the restoration of land has a positive effect on livelihoods and an adequate standard of living. Also, taking in consideration the principle and concept of non-discrimination against IDPs, neither based on their displacement, nor on other considerations.
Most of the times, these criteria represent an ideal that could be difficult to achieve on the short or medium term, due to the challenges and complications of many displacement situations. Therefore, the criteria should be seen as scales to measure the progress made towards durable solutions.
Long-Term Safety and Security
Internally Displace People (IDPs) who have reached a durable solution enjoy physical safety and security based on effective protection by the authorities. IDPs should have full and non-discriminatory access to protection mechanisms, including the police, courts, human rights institutions, civil society organizations or international humanitarian organizations. This includes protection from threats that caused the initial displacement or may cause a recurrence of displacement. The protection of IDPs who have reached a durable and settled solution must be equal and effective as protection provided to the non-displaced population, bearing in mind that absolute safety and security may not often be achievable, but IDPs must not be attacked or Harassment, intimidation, persecution, or any other form of punitive measures.
Access to Livelihoods and Employment
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who have reached durable solutions also have access to employment and livelihood opportunities, as these opportunities must meet at least their basic social, living, and economic needs. It will not always be possible for all displaced persons to obtain employment or restore their former livelihoods. However, IDPs should not experience hardships and obstacles that prevent them from accessing work and livelihoods at the same level as residents.
Positive measures and ways may be needed to help IDPs acquire new skills, new professional knowledge, and adapt to new livelihoods, for example, the integration of IDPs from a rural area with few job opportunities or modern avenues, into an urban environment that contains all Job opportunities and modern and advanced livelihoods.
Enjoyment of an Adequate Standard of Living without Discrimination
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who have reached a durable solution, without discrimination, enjoy an adequate standard of living, including minimum shelter, health care, food, water, and other necessary means of survival that enable them to live in dignity, security, and independence.
An adequate standard of living requires, as a minimum and basic, that IDPs have adequate access, on a sustainable basis, to food, water, housing, basic medical services, sanitation, and education.
Effective and Accessible Mechanisms to Restore Housing, Land and Property Rights
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who have reached a durable solution have access to effective ways and mechanisms to recover their homes, lands, and properties in a timely manner or to compensate for losses resulting from the conflict or the circumstance that caused their displacement and the destruction of their property, regardless of whether they have returned to their original areas of residence. Alternatively, they choose to integrate locally or settle in another part of the country. These standards apply to lease contracts as well as to real estate or residential, agricultural, and commercial properties.
Access to Personal and Other Documentation without Discrimination
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who have reached a durable solution have access to official forms, personal documents, and other documents needed to access public services, reclaim property and land, vote in elections, or pursue other matters related to durable solutions.
Often, during displacement, people lose the necessary and documents that enable them to enjoy and exercise their legal rights normally, such as passports, personal status IDs, citizenship certificates, housing cards, birth certificates, marriage contracts, voter ID cards, title deeds, and professional or academic certificates. In certain cases, the displaced may not have official documents or their documents may not be recognized due to the factors and circumstances of displacement, as this represents a problem and an obstacle while they search for durable solutions.
It is essential to reunite families separated by displacement as soon as possible, especially when it comes to children, the elderly or other vulnerable people, so that they can search for durable solutions that will help them settle in.
Participation in Public Affairs without Discrimination
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who have reached a durable solution are able to exercise the right to participate in public affairs at all levels on the same basis as the resident population and without discrimination due to their displacement. This includes the right to freely associate and participate equally in the affairs of society, to vote and stand for election, as well as the right to work in all sectors of the public service.
Access to Effective Remedies and Justice
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who are victims of violations of the International Human Rights or the Humanitarian Law, including arbitrary or forced displacement, should have full and non-discriminatory access to justice and equitable means, including, access to transitional justice mechanisms, reparations, and information on the causes of violations. Effective remedies also include equal and effective access to justice, adequate compensation for the harm they have suffered, and access to relevant information regarding violations and compensation mechanisms.
Norwegian Refugee Council briefing note, November 2019 on durable solutions for Internal Displaced People. Click here