Humanitarian Response

During civil conflicts or natural disasters, civilians are often forced to flee their homes, suffer the loss of their property, and are stripped of their ability to fend for themselves. They frequently seek out safety within other areas of their country, becoming more vulnerable to human rights abuses and more dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.


There are roughly 27.5 million internally-displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide. In contrast to those who cross an international border and have legal protection as refugees, IDPs lack these protections and must rely on their own government to assist and protect them. When a country is unwilling or incapable of providing those services, international agencies have a duty to step in and fill the gap.

Over the past ten years, the United Nations and other actors have taken steps to improve the way they respond to humanitarian crises. But the nature of displacement has changed dramatically in recent years. As a result, humanitarian actors are now being forced to re-think and adapt their interventions. For example, more civilians are being targeted during conflicts, leading to increased numbers of IDPs. Many displaced populations are also now settling outside of well-defined camps, making it difficult for agencies to provide effective assistance. In other cases, access to asylum procedures has become more lengthy and cumbersome, with national governments and local populations showing increasing hostility to refugees.


RI will continue to assess the living conditions and urgent needs of internally-displaced persons, asylum seekers, and urban refugees, in order to influence donor policies - particularly those of the U.S. government, the European Union, and UNHCR. Furthermore, it will advocate forcefully for adequate funding and effective implementation of these policies.

To address the lack of legal protections for internally-displaced people, RI will press national governments to develop and implement their own comprehensive IDP policies, and it will push for the adoption of related international agreements like the African Union's Kampala Convention.

Finally, RI will continue to advocate for humanitarian leadership at the UN that embodies the principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence. It will pressure the UN to deploy experienced leaders to manage the global response to humanitarian crises, and suggest improvements to the UN's field-based humanitarian coordination mechanism, known as the "Cluster System".