Geneva (Thursday, 14 July 2016): The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has launched Pushed Aside: Displaced for ‘Development’ in India, its first thematic report dedicated to the issue of internal displacement caused by development projects.
Internal displacement as a result of dam and road construction, mining activities, urban renewal, sporting events and other development activities is currently not covered in global displacement estimates, and rarely addressed as a humanitarian and development challenge of global proportions.
Such projects, however, have historically forced large numbers of people off their land “in the name of progress”. A conservative estimate points to 15 million people displaced each year, more than double the number of 8.6 million people displaced by conflict and violence in 2015.
People displaced by development projects often end up worse off as a result of the loss of housing, land, food, water, health, education and freedom of movement.
“This new research area is an additional step towards building a comprehensive picture of internal displacement globally” said Alexandra Bilak, IDMC Director (a.i.). “By expanding the scope of our monitoring we aim to ensure that all internally displaced people in need of protection and assistance, and those vulnerable to displacement, are included in prevention and response efforts. The report’s finding show that in order to be sustainable, development needs to be undertaken in full respect of the rights and needs of the most vulnerable”.
Key findings of the India report include: regular exploitation of the land acquisition process by authorities; international eviction standards not being adhered to; and indigenous rights not being systematically respected in land acquisitions.
The report also highlights how internal displacement leads to community disintegration and marginalisation, increased vulnerability – with women disproportionately affected – as well as impoverishment, and deteriorating housing standards.
The negative impacts of development projects in India also highlight the need to address the issue in key policy and planning discussions at national and global levels. Furthermore, global development agendas should ensure that while development projects may alleviate poverty for some, they should not at the same time create new poor. Neglecting those evicted and displaced will undermine the achievement of global development goals.
The timescale for planning and implementing projects should provide ample opportunity to avoid or minimise displacement, and to put measures in place to ensure that those who are displaced achieve durable solutions.