of the Internally Displaced Persons in South Asia
Report on Training Workshops, Translations of the UN Guiding Principles and
Advocacy Meetings in South Asia (2004-2005)
In the last one-decade the numbers of internally
displaced persons (IDP) are on the increase in South Asia just as in many other parts of the world.
Discrimination against minorities, violence, war, ethnic hatred, state
repression, demands for self-determination, natural and man made disasters such
as famines and floods, ill-conceived development projects such as highways and
dams – all have contributed massively to internal displacement. Often the
victims of forced displacement are unable to cross borders due to severe lack
of resources and are forced to live within a regime that had created occasions
for their displacement in the first place.
The societies and the polities of South Asia have shown weak capacity to cope with the
severe humanitarian crises and the disasters of unprecedented magnitude in form
of major occurrences of forced displacements. Internal displacement has become
one of the chief concerns of the administrators, policy-making circles, and
humanitarian agencies. It is the integral today to studies of forced
displacement in South
particularly in the context of the experiences of Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal.
An interesting aspect in the study of IDPs in South
Asia (2002-2003) conducted by the CRG with the help of the Brookings
Institution, which has been published as a monograph by Sage in 2005 portrays
that there are no legal or constitutional mechanisms in any country in South
Asia for the IDPs in particular, no inventory of best practices. In fact South
Asian states have organized rehabilitation and care on an ad hoc basis for the
IDPs in the same manner as they have dealt with refugees. Yet the reality is that the IDPs are more
vulnerable than the refugees, particularly because they have to remain within a
system that is responsible for their displacement, and there is no definite
international protection mechanism for them.
In the last decade the UN Guiding Principles on
Internal Displacement have created occasion for rethinking on the situation of
IDPs worldwide. Individually South Asia scholars, jurists, civil liberties and
human rights activists are in the forefront of such rethinking. The more
important point is that the Guiding Principles have become the common benchmark
for protection and care of the IDPs in a region where States are at conflict
with each other and hence do not want to learn from each other’s best
practices; also there is no regional mechanism on this critical issue of human
rights and humanitarianism.
Keeping this in mind the CRG has organized a South
Asian advocacy campaign on the Guiding Principles and on how coupled with other
legal and non-formal measure it can be used to serve the interest of the victim
communities. The CRG has been the founder
of the only regular journal on forced migration in South Asia, Refugee Watch. This journal through the
last five years has built up a substantial body of writings, case studies,
analyses, interviews, and documents on IDPs, that
became a significant study material for such a training program. CRG has
completed in collaboration with the Brookings Institution a massive study of
the patterns of internal displacement in South Asia (2003) based on country analyses of Pakistan, India, Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Such a study has been possible because of
strong relations that CRG has with relevant functionaries in humanitarian and
human rights organizations, academics, human rights activists, and legal
scholars in these countries. The aim of the study has been to find out how the
South Asian situation fares in the mirror of the UN Guiding Principles on
Internal Displacement. The study has also included an over all report on
conditions of women who have been victims of internal displacement in this
region. This study has made it possible
for CRG to form a network of scholar activists who supported this South Asian
advocacy and training programme on the Guiding Principles.
The programme commenced with a preparatory meeting in Kathmandu in July 2004.
Preparatory Meeting in Kathmandu
first preparatory meeting for what was entitled the IDP Training and Advocacy
Programme on UN Guiding Principles was organized CRG in Kathmandu on 17 July,
2004. In that meeting CRG invited representatives
from all partner organisations from five different countries in South
Asia. The partner
organisations included Ain O Salish Kendro ( Bangladesh),
Nepal Institue of Peace (Nepal), Aurat Foundation (Pakistan), National
Institute of Peace (Sri Lanka)
and CENISEAS (Guwahati, India). The
meeting consisted of the following experts from the region:
Samaddar, Pradip Kumar Bose, Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Subir Bhaumik, Samir Kumar Das, Iftaque Ahmed
Ronnie, Atta ur-Rahman Shaikh, Meghna Guhathakurta, Pradip Phanjoubam, Sanjib Baruah, Bandana Shreshtha, Pradeep Wagle, Som Prasad Niroula, Hari Sharma and Jagat Acharya..
Proceedings of the meeting devolved mostly on the twin tasks of
preparing campaign and advocacy booklets and organizing workshops by CRG’s South Asian partners.
the preparatory meeting an advocacy strategy was formed. It was decided that every country should
prepare an advocacy booklet that should contain translations of the UN Guiding
Principles and a common introduction by the CRG. The booklet should contain references to
community practices and modes of hospitality towards the IDPs in South
Asia besides the discussion on state practices in the
perspective of the Guiding Principles. The target audience of the booklets
would comprise the policy makers, legislators, activists and most importantly,
the victims themselves. The booklet should be of 30-40 pages of which the first
approximately 10-page common introductory note will be prepared by CRG. Once the booklet is prepared it was to be
followed by advocacy meeting in each country. The advocacy meeting, it was
hoped will include representations from the victim communities, practitioners
from the legal community and policy makers.
the basis of the discussion in the preparatory meeting CRG began the work with
the partner organisations. As a first
step a common introduction for the advocacy booklets were prepared by the
editorial team composed of Paula Banerjee, Samir Das, Meghna Guhathakurta and Ranabir Samaddar. This was sent to all partners. The introduction dealt with a few questions
that can help the victim community and people involved in rehabilitation and
care. These were:
- What Types of Displacement are Prohibited by the Guiding Principles?
- What Rights do Persons have once Displaced?
- What Rights and Obligations do Humanitarian Organizations
- What Help Should Displaced Persons Expect
with Return, Reintegration and Resettlement?
- Are their any special provisions for women?
- Are the Guiding Principles
- Whose responsibility is it anyway?
- What is the way
Meetings and Workshops
date advocacy meetings and workshops in five countries have been
completed. These include Bangladesh, India
and Sri Lanka. The following are the reports of country
Date: 25 November 2004
Workshop on the Advocacy Booklet on the Guiding Principles on IDPs in Bangladesh was
jointly organized by the Calcutta Research Group and Ain O Salish
Kendra (ASK). It was held on November
25, 2004 at Research Institute of Bangladesh (RIB) conference
room, Dhaka. The workshop was chaired by Sultana Kamal, Executive Director of Ain O Salish
Kendra (ASK). Dr. Paula Banerjee represented the
MCRG. Among the participants were scholars, lawyers, activists and victims of
workshop began with some introductory remarks from DR. Shamsul
Bari, Chairman, RIB and former official at UNHCR. Dr.
Paula Banerjee introduced the project in South
Asia under the collaboration of the Brookings Institution.
The draft booklet, which was translated into Bangla
along with the UN Guiding Principles on IDP was then
presented, in brief, by Meghna Guhathakurta
and Suraiya Begum.
In-depth discussions on each section of the report were held with each
commentator either representing the academia or the NGOs with a prolonged
exposure and experience in the respective fields. The issues of discussion
included: displacement due to river erosion, armed conflict, election violence,
slum eviction, brothel eviction and shrimp cultivation. The in-depth discussion
was followed by an open floor discussion. Several important suggestions were
made for the revision of the booklet before the final publication and a forward-looking
strategy for its dissemination was envisioned. The following are some key
points, which could form the framework of such a strategy:
- A South Asian perspective of
internal displacement should be reflected in the booklet.
- Definitions and categories of
displacement that are specific to Bangladesh should be highlighted. The booklet may be distributed to all
agencies working under the UN system in Bangladesh especially the UNHCR. Since it contains the first ever translation
of the Guiding principles in Bangla, it should
be especially useful at the grass-roots level.
- A group may be formed, which
will carry on the work of dissemination of the booklet. All participants
at the workshop expressed their interest in contributing towards such
- An effective advocacy strategy
should be formulated that is time-bound.
- It was even suggested that
instead of or in addition to one booklet there could be several, each
highlighting one particular type of displacement. This should be easy to
read and illustrated for the benefit of victims of the particular type of
- A parallel media campaign is a
- Psychological aspects of
displacement should also be adequately reflected.
- Internal displacement should
be looked at together with increasing criminalization of the polity.
- Resistance to internal
displacement should also be documented.
28 and 29 January
Centre for Northeast India,
South and Southeast Asia Studies (CENISEAS) in collaboration with the CRG held
a workshop on the Relevance of the U N Guiding Principles on Internal
Displacement in Guwahati, Assam. It was stated that the CRG project on IDPs is
in collaboration with the Brookings Institutions project on IDPs. Because India is such a
large country this workshop was meant to look closely at the situation of
internally displaced people in Northeast
India alone. In the
inaugural session Sanjib Baruah,
Senior Fellow CENISEAS said that Northeast India has the largest number of
conflict induced IDPs in India yet they get little attention from either the
government or the civil liberties activists and the national and international
media. He said that indigenous people
are the hardest hit as a result of conflict in Northeast
India. He talked
about 150,000 IDPs languishing in Kokrajhar camps and
so he said that a translation of the Guiding Principles in vernacular languages
might be a tool in the hands of the victim community. Paula Banerjee from
CRG discussed how the Guiding Principles are based on international
humanitarian and human rights laws. She
also spoke on how the Guiding Principles are being translated and used in
different countries of South Asia. Ranabir Samaddar, Director CRG and ANS Ahmed,
Director Omeo Kumar Das
Institute of Social Science released a bilingual booklet on the Guiding
Principles in Assamese and English. The
workshop was attended by many different organisations from Northeast
India and also by members of different IDP camps such as Serang IDP camp, Adivasiya Sahitya Sabha, STTEP etc. There were a number of women’s rights
activists, academics, researchers, lawyers and government administrators. There were over 50 participants in the
important suggestions were made for carrying the programme forward:
- It was said that in the
context of Northeast India it is not adequate to translate the Guiding Principles only in
- The CENISEAS in collaboration
with CRG agreed to translate it into Boro, Adivasi, Meitei and some
other Northeast Indian languages in the future.
- The translated Guiding
Principles, it was agreed should be sent to inmates of the camps, other
victims, civil liberties organisations, media, administrators and the
- CRG agreed to hold future
workshops in IDP camps in collaboration with partner organisations in Northeast India. All
participants at the workshop expressed their interest in contributing
towards such activities.
- It was suggested that in depth
empirical studies should be conducted in IDP camps because hardly any reliable
data exists on them.
- It was also suggested that an
information and media campaign could be organised around the visit of
Professor Walter Kalin.
- Efforts should be made for
better exchange of data among people working on IDPs.
- A network of interested people
should be organised. This network
should consists of activists, scholars, lawyers,
victims of displacement and other state holders.
Date: 20 November 2004
A workshop on
the Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons in Nepal commenced at Kathmandu on November 20, 2004 with an
objective to discuss on current situation of internally displaced persons and
identify some strategies to address it. Thirty participants representing civil
society and government participated in the workshop. There were NGO activists, academics, lawyers
and administrators in the meeting that was held in Hotel Himalaya in Kathmandu.
Research Group (CRG) in collaboration with the Brookings Institution supported
the initiative realizing the needs to discuss on the Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced
People and its relevance in the current context
of conflict in Nepal.
The Nepal Institute of peace (NIP) was the local organiser of this
three main objectives of the workshop as follows:
- Collect feedback on the draft
advocacy booklet to finalize it;
- Promote use of the booklet for
future advocacy activities,
- Prepare future strategies for
working with conflict induced Internally Displaced people
draft translations of the Guiding Principles were presented followed by discussions
and recommendations. Moreover, two group discussions were held to finalize the
future strategies for advocacy activities. The workshop commenced with an
inaugural address of Mr. Som Niroula,
Secretary NIP, followed by Dr. Samir Kumar Das,
Secretary CRG. Mr. Niroula highlighted the objective
of the workshop and the current IDPs situation in Nepal. He, then, stressed on
the organizations objectives as developing a culture of Peace in Nepal through the means of
promotion and protection of human rights. He also highlighted the
conflict-induced IDPs’ problems in Nepal since the initiation of
the conflict. Dr. Samir Kumar Das highlighted the UN
Guiding principles and their relevance in South Asian context.
Mr. Pradip Shankar Wagle, an advocate working on the human right issues,
highlighted the Legal system in dealing with IDPs in Nepal. He argued
that there is recognition of IDP's as a result
of developmental projects but there is no legal system to deal on IDP's as a result of conflict. He said that if refugees
have rights in another country, than the IDP’s should
also have equal rights as the citizens of the country and the Constitution of
Nepal should guarantee the same rights and equality as guaranteed by the
constitution of Nepal
to all its citizens. Ms. Ranjana Thapa, a lawyer and a woman activist, presented the
situation of IDPs in the current context. Prof. Kapil Srhestha, Moderator, a human rights activist in Nepal, raised the question of identity of
the large population which displaced after the state of emergency in Nepal.
Mr. Achute Acharya,
a Senior staff of the National Human Rights
Commission, informed that NHRC created a IDPs desk in 2003. NHRC is trying to
work in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forum on the IDPs issues. Dharma Raj Neupane, the Chairperson of
the Association of the Sufferers of the Maoist, Nepal (ASMN), shared his
experiences in the workshop saying that most of the people who do not have
affiliation with political parities flew to India or another country.
The reflection of the participants
about the workshop and strategies for dissemination of the translated GPs was
- More emphasis should be given to prepare
detailed strategies on the IDPs advocacy work in Nepal.
- Need of similar types of such training
workshops with the translated GPs should be held outside the capital city.
- Addition of more case studies in the advocacy
Nepali booklet relating to the IDP problem and strategy implementation would
- Initiate e-mail network to disseminate the
translated GPs and advocacy booklet.
- Highlight the situation of the IDPs through
District level workshops.
- Launch a campaign in collaboration with other
organizations to develop a model law or policy to protect and promote the
rights of IDPs.
- Conduct further research on the specific and
general situation of IDPs
Aurat Foundation organized an orientation workshop on
November 2004 in Lahore, as part of the “Advocacy
and Training Programme on the Relevance of the Guiding Principles on Internal
Displacement in South Asia”
launched by CRG in collaboration with the Brookings Institution.
Representatives from NGOs, media, donor organizations, lawyers associations,
relief organizations, universities, and government actively participated in the
workshop. Altogether there were 32 participants respectively from 22
main objective of the workshop was to:
- Raise awareness on the
phenomenon of internal displacement with reference to UN Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement.
- Establish networking with
participating organizations on issue of internal displacement.
- Work out a strategy to
comprehensively and consistently address the issue of internal
displacement in Pakistan.
Atta ur Rehman
Sheikh (Coordinator, Pakistan) welcomed the participants, explained the
objectives of the workshop and gave a brief introduction on the “Training and
Advocacy on Relevance of UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in
South Asia” launched by the Mahanirban Calcutta
Research Group (MCRG), India in collaboration with the Brookings Institution. A
round of introductions of the participants followed.
I.A. Rehman (Director, Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan) delivered the keynote address to set the tone of the workshop. He
briefly highlighted the critical issues that needed to be dealt with reference
to internal displacement in the political backdrop of Pakistan. He said
is a land of displaced persons as it experienced two major exoduses during the
partition and the Soviet-Afghan war. There is a long history of internal
displacement in the country, yet this issue remained insignificant in terms of
research and legislation. He mentioned the Mangla
dam, Tarbela dam, Islamabad Capital Territory, Cholistan and ongoing Gawadar
Port Project wherein human rights of people are being violated on a massive
scale. Mr. Rehman argued that the issue of internal
displacement is part of larger issue of governmental
policies and human rights violations. Mr.
Rehman congratulated the organizers of the workshop
and their collaborators, which included Aurat
Foundation, the Brookings Institute and MCRG, for taking initiative on such a
first working session was devoted to a detailed orientation on issues and
concepts of internal displacement along with three presentations on conflict
induced displacement. In the first working session, Dr. Sikandar
Mehdi (Director, Migration and Refugee Studies
made a presentation on the phenomenon of migration and displacement with
reference to UN Guiding Principles. The second working session was devoted to
presentations on development-induced displacement. However, one presentation on
women and displacement, in order to look into the issue vis-à-vis gender
perspective, was also incorporated in the session. In addition, a specific
presentation on disaster and displacement was also part of post lunch session. All the participants of the workshop and
speakers were full of praise for the workshop being first modest initiative of
its kind in Pakistan.
The participants and the speakers in the course of the presentations made the
following recommendations and suggestions:
workshops, such as the one held, should be organized. The Migration and Refugee
Study Programme of the Karachi University, the Migration Research Centre, Islamabad and the Sustainable Development Policy
Institute, Islamabad may play a role in terms of coordination among
the persons and organizations working on this issue and organizing activities
to raise awareness and research on internal displacement.
- In view of the general dearth
of research work on internal displacement, research papers should be commissioned
for quality research. This is also important to develop baseline data on
- There are organizations and
persons, though few in numbers, working on this issue in various ways.
They should be identified and brought together for broader coordination
and cooperation. A reference directory should be prepared for this
- Organizations and institutions
in and outside Pakistan should be contacted for resource mobilization to continue work on
the issue on a longer-term basis.
- There should be widespread
distribution of the Urdu version of the Guiding Principle as an advocacy
National Peace Council organized a workshop on 10 March 2005 in Colombo as part
of the “Advocacy and Training Programme on the Relevance of the Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement in South Asia” launched by CRG in
collaboration with the Brookings Institution and discussed the issue of both
war affected IDPs and Tsunami affected IDPs.
There were 31 participants and they included representatives of UNICEF,
Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, Social Science Research Council, Human
Rights Commission, Centre for Communication Training
said that the issues of war affected IDP’s was
marginalized and was forgotten during the peace process. However Tsunami,
although a great disaster proved to have a sliver lining as it brought the IDP
issue into limelight once again. Many organizations that had different mandates
have started working on IDP issues bringing it to the centre stage. He
highlighted the differences between war-affected IDP’s
and Tsunami affected IDP’s in the following manner.
Tsunami affected IDP’
Difficulty of gaining access to war displaced persons
As Tsunami only for 20 minutes gaining access to Tsunami IDP’s was not a major issue
War displacement was caused by human factors
Tsunami displacement was caused by nature
Highlighting was displaced persons issues were considered unpatriotic.
Even media did not want to report on was displaced persons.
Issues of Tsunami affected persons could be highlight in the media
without resistance and every one was prompted to address their concerns
has reduced the negative impact on IDP’s. It has
developed an opportunity in which Sri Lankans can
address IDP concerns in an efficient manner, as plenty of resources are
available because there is international focus. Aid that is received can be
used for both war and tsunami victims, in an equitable manner.
Nilhan de mel said that the focus of the workshop was to
discuss about how Sri Lankans should address the
issues of Tsunami IDPs and War affected IDPs-
- Should they be addressed as a
whole or should they address IDP issues separately?
- What are the civil society key
initiatives and interests in IDP policy development?
- What are the key issues that
should be addressed on IDPs? How could they be addressed?
Dharani Rajasingham said it is important to link post-tsunami
and post-war displacement for equitable reconstruction, in order to ensure
equability and peace. Post-tsunami situation is a great opportunity to address
reconciliation and peace. Her
- There should be an attempt to
promote-multi-ethnic constituencies through resettlement, where cultural
diversity and historical co-existence of communities will be prompted and
- Should consider the situation
of local minorities as the Multi-cultural National Vision for Peace developed
in 2003 should talk about local minorities. People who are most vulnerable
for displacement are local minorities. Although this is suggested it is
not yet picked up.
- It is necessary to focus on
conflict sensitivity and pro-poor action.
- Consideration of historical
conditions should be given in reconstruction.
- Post Tsunami reconstruction
affirmative action should be pro-poor.
- Transparency is necessary for
- Conduct clear assessment of
how much it will cost to rebuild houses.
- Pro-poor policies of
individuals to participate in reconstruction of housing are necessary.
- Guiding principles on
Internally Displacement is a valuable document but we have to
contextualize according to Sri Lanka
Jeyasingham spoke on the situation of
minorities. He recommended the
- IDPs need caring people.
- We need much more government
- Developing better structures
and Better warning system in the Coastal area rather then resettling the
- Build confidence
- Ministries should be
- Awareness should be created
- Decentralize the system and
meeting ended with a promise by participants to evolve programs on the basis of
A South Asian Review of the
Advocacy Programme, Bangkok
14-15 March 2005
review meeting held on 14 and 15 March in Trang Hotel
Bangkok took notice of the translations of the UN Guiding Principles in various
South Asian languages as a result of the South Asian campaign and drew satisfaction
from the way in which all the advocacy workshops had been designed, planned,
and executed in South Asia.
Members of Forum Asia facilitated the meeting.
The participants included:
Rehman Sheikh, Aurat
Mooney, Brookings Institution, USA
Ain O Salish Kendra and Dhaka University, Bangladesh
Nilhan de Mel, National Peace Council, Sri Lanka
Banerjee, CRG, India
Samaddar, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group (CRG), India
Samir Das, CRG, India
Centre for Policy Research,
Nepal Institute of Peace, Nepal
Suraiya Begum, Research Initiatives, Bangladesh
the first day Ranabir Samaddar, the Director of the CRG, initiated the
discussion. He began by portraying how
the Tsunami had brought the issue of IDPs to the forefront in South
Asia. He said
displacement was no longer just a humanitarian issue, but a political one - it
was a question of rights. Paula Banerjee stated that
CRG was interested in issues of displacement, which stemmed from CRG’s interest in peace studies. She emphasised that CRG studies refugee
issues as related to conflicts and rights. She thanked the Brookings
Institution, and in particular Roberta Cohen for consistent inspiration and support
to CRG’s work, on the IDPs who had been more
vulnerable than refugees of this region where States have been most responsible
in producing IDPs. According to Banerjee States have rarely produced well thought out
policies on relief and rehabilitation of the IDPs and have failed to carry out
measures with a long perspective. Whatever has happened as relief measures, has been the product of ad hoc steps taken by the
Mooney from the Brookings Institution discussed the Brookings-Bern project that
has made possible to facilitate this exercise in South
Asia. She said that
the project has a global mandate. This
is particularly highlighted by the association of Walter Kalin
who is currently Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights of the
IDPs. Kalin’s mandate include:
- Advocacy and dialogue with
Governments and all groups involved.
- Promotion of the Guiding
- Mainstreaming human rights of
IDPs – working with Governments, civil societies and media persons
Mooney stated that Walter Kalin was scheduled to
visit different parts of South Asia
soon. Both Mooney and Ranabir Samaddar
felt that Kalin’s planned visit could be considered
an opportunity to highlight the rights of IDPs.
initial discussions were followed by presentations made by country partners on
their experiences of organising and facilitating the advocacy programme.
from Ain O Salish Kendra and Research
Institute of Bangladesh began the discussions by stating the difficult
circumstances under which they worked on the advocacy meeting and IDP booklet,
since the present political situation in Bangladesh is
particularly unstable. Dr. Guhathakurta and her
co-researcher Suraiya Begum said that in the context
they highlighted the following cases of displacement:
- Due to river erosion
- Due to conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT)
- Due to marginalisation of
- Due to state eviction of slums
- Induced by globalisation –
displacing people from their livelihoods.
The Bangladesh segment stressed on the psychological aspects of
displacement that takes place in each case. Dr. Guhathakurta is
of the opinion that IDP programs do not adequately address this issue. Bangladesh was
increasingly witnessing the criminalisation of polity. This has led to displacement being a large
part of life in Bangladesh
but at the same time the country also had a rich experience in resistance to
such arbitrary displacement. This is why
displacement in Bangladesh
has not involved much crossing of borders by the displaced. It is because people have faith in rights
based movements that they wait to get back to their original homes, to reclaim
their lands. She noted however that workshops though initiating the work, were not enough to get all stake-holders
together. For this the media needs to be
mobilized as well as other institutions and individuals need to be sensitised.
ur Rehman from Aurat
Foundation said that he enjoyed translating the IDP booklet as it was the
first for such an endeavour. Moreover,
since the program had a limited budget he had to be creative in thinking out
strategies. In Pakistan he and his
group organised a one-day advocacy workshop where 32 participants from 22
organisations participated, resulting in lively discussions. The main objectives of the workshop was to
give an orientation to Pakistani human rights activists about the Guiding
Principles and to establish a network of people interested in issues of
rehabilitation and care of IDPs.
workshop he reported included the following sessions:
- IDPs and the Guiding
- Displacement in Wana because of military operations.
- Displacement in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
- Displacement in Balochistan.
- The Land Acquisition Act.
- Displacement due to projects
related to water.
- Displacement due the
construction of the Mangla Dam.
- women and displacement.
there was a session on the strategies necessary for rehabilitation and care.
resource material that was disseminated included materials published by the
Brookings Institution such as Exodus Within Borders
and chapters from Report on World Commission on Dams. Participants were
expected to study these materials as well as the Guiding Principles. There was
wide press coverage of the workshop by the media in Pakistan, both the
print and broadcasting media. The suggestions made as a follow-up to the
workshop included the following:
- More workshops needed.
- More research needed as general
dearth of research work in the field of IDPs felt.
- More organisations need to be
identified for research and advocacy work.
committee was set up to review the booklet and on the basis of its feedback the
booklet is printed. Among the problems identified by the Aurat
foundation in doing this programme were: (a) Paucity of budget allocations and
(b) Lack of research on the issue in the context of Pakistan.
reported that the advocacy workshop in Kathmandu
had 30 participants and during the meeting there was
extensive discussions on the creation of a toolkit for activists working
with IDPs. The Nepali partners felt that it was very difficult to work on the
issue as no organisation works on IDPs in Nepal. Some just have a small component on IDPs
within their other projects and so often there is big lacuna in understanding
the situation of IDPs. The Nepal Institute of Peace felt that there is
tremendous scope in working on this issue in Nepal as this is
one of the post important emerging political issue
requiring international attention.
During the discussion that ensued after Niraula’s
opening comments it was stressed by the other participants that within South
Asia Nepal is one of the most challenging cases that require the attention of
groups working on IDPs. Sri Lanka provided a
past example of forced displacement and Nepal shows how
IDPs are here to stay in the context of this region. It was stated that no one
has any actual idea of the exact number of IDPs in Nepal and often
international communities do their research on IDPs by just visiting Kathmandu. Hence in the context of Nepal more
primary research was necessary to enrich advocacy work on IDPs.
the discussion Erin Mooney once again reminded participant’s
about Walter Kalin’s recent trip to Nepal. The participants suggested that NIP should
make that an occasion to campaign for IDPs in Nepal.
who led the advocacy work in Northeast India commented that the
situation in the Northeast is extremely complex. There are a number of languages and so
translating the Guiding Principles only in one language may complicate the
issue. Hence he aid as a first step he
translated the GP into Assamese with the hope that later he might do it in other
languages such as Bodo, Meitei,
In describing the translation of the GP into Assamese Baruah said that he followed it with the English text next
to the translations. This was done
keeping in mind the polarisation of the North East whereby publishing the
Assamese text only would have been perceived as being politically
motivated. He also said that
translations of Bengali and Nepali translations of the GP is a must in
Northeast because there were sizeable population speaking these two languages. As for the displacement
scene in Northeast Baruah
is of the opinion that the region has seen a chain reaction in displacement.
The displacement of Bengali Muslims from India led to the
pushing out of Bhutias from Dargeeling,
which in turn led to the expulsion of Nepalese from Bhutan. This was followed by displacement of many
other groups who were both victors and vanquished at the same time.
Baruah reported that the advocacy
workshop in the Northeast was held on 28-29 January. Ranabir Samaddar, Paula Banerjee,
Monirul Hussai and Dilip Sharma were present at the workshop. A number of sessions were held. A film show was organised that portrayed the
situation of IDPs in the Bodo areas. He felt that there was a
need to have more Bodo activisits
since the Bodo militants often pose a greater
obstacle than the Government when people visit their areas with the stated
purpose of working on IDPs. During the advocy meeting
in Guwahati he reported that the media was present
though they covered the workshop still it was a very small intervention. In order to do anything seriously, he is of
the opinion that long-term strategies are needed.
from the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka was of the opinion that they faced
hardly any trouble in compiling the booklet on Guiding Principles (GP) and none
with the translation of the GP because displacement is such an important
phenomena in the context of Sri Lanka and terms that do not exist in other
languages explaining the situation of IDPs exists in Tamils and Sinhalese from
the workshop discussions Nilhan de Mel of National
Peace Council said that although there were confusions and problems that arose
after the Tsunami there was a positive result because it opened up the IDP
issue in Sri Lanka
once again. Till then the IDP issue had
become politicised as the majority of the IDPs were Tamils and so it was not
considered to be patriotic to talk about them. But the Tsunami has produced
both Tamil and Sinhalese IDPs.
Mel brought up the issue of buffer zones. As per the coastal conservation laws
construction within 100 meters of the sea is not permitted. But it was not implemented and the Tsunami
has thrown up controversy about this law all over again. The buffer zone issue was felt as being
anti-poor, as it is putting the fishermen in trouble since no fisherman is
willing to tow his boats 300 meters from the sea and drag them there
everyday. There is no consultation – the
Government does not ask anyone about his or her opinion on the law. The law is changing everyday and yet in the
midst of it all hotels are given permission to rebuild within the buffer zones.
All these issues have brought back questions of rehabilitation and care to the
centre stage and people working on R & R feel that durable housings should
precede moving people away from the coast.
first day the meeting ended with a decision to meet the next day again until
next day a number of recommendations were made to carry the work forward. They
- The need to have a public
lecture series – like the Amnesty International approach.
- The need to take up
research. Each country takes up one
case for one year and at the annual meeting share
its findings with others and it becomes a database.
- Stories of resistance should
be collected and made into a booklet.
- Provide training for lawyers
at a regional level and see if international mechanisms can be applied or
we need to have regional mechanisms.
- Training of Government
officials in dealing with R & R of IDPs.
- Legal training: Lawyers can be
asked for best practices and exchange of information.
- Publish booklet on best
practices based on training.
- Develop policies based on
- Booklets should be adequately
publicised. They should be printed
in adequate numbers and distributed.
- Meghna Guhathakurta suggested the usage of
street theatre to raise consciousness regarding IDPs.
meeting ended in a positive note with the partners agreeing to work in
collaboration with CRG and Brookings Institution for a larger research and
advocacy program for the IDPs in South Asia
in the future.