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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1995, 60 p.)
close this folderPart 1: Displacement
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCauses of displacement
View the documentCASE STUDY: Causes of Displacement in South Africa
View the documentDisplacement as a national concern
View the documentInternational response
View the documentWhen to intervene
View the documentUnderstanding the root causes
View the documentProtection needs
View the documentWhere assistance may be required
View the documentScope of assistance
View the documentDistinctiveness
View the documentThe effect of labeling
View the documentPLANNING CRITERIA: Planning assumptions for resettlement

Causes of displacement

Tens of thousands of people can be displaced for a single dam construction or strategic project.

Who is being displaced, in what circumstances, from what causes? Resettlement considerations are shaped by the identities of the displaced and the causes of their displacement. Review of displacement phenomenon shows that many types of stressful situations cause displacement. Policy and program development should address these causes.

Large numbers of people are displaced every year by natural disasters. The potential scale of displacements from natural disasters can be illustrated by the movement of 1.2 million people threatened by the 1991 eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines. Again in 1991 in the Philippines, a catastrophic flash flood caused massive displacement and the deaths of 8,000 people in the cities it destroyed. Drought, which affects more people than any other disaster type, famine, and technological disasters are important causes of large scale displacement. Nearly one million people a year are displaced in Bangladesh due to the erosion of the meandering rivers (Rahman, 1988).

Millions of people have migrated in circumstances of armed conflicts. Displacement continues to occur in some places as a result of political repression and gross human rights violations. Economic crises such as devaluation of currency, collapse of the economy, closure of industries, excessive inflation, or widespread poverty, are other major causes of displacement.

The displacement of 4 million people in South Africa under apartheid rule resulted from discriminatory laws and hostile government action. In Ethiopia, during the 1980s, large numbers of people were forcibly moved in government-directed resettlement programs. Poor members of society are sometimes displaced due to exploitation by commercial interests. Indigenous people in many parts of the world are being displaced because they lack legal recourse to protect their traditional land rights. Tens of thousands of people can be displaced for a single dam construction or strategic project such as a military installation.

Many types of displacement happen concurrently as illustrated by a review of the causes of past displacements in South Africa (see Case Study). There were 21 causes cited for displacement in the Philippines. In the Horn of Africa in the early 1990's, displaced persons included refugees and returnees seeking a place to settle, those internally displaced because of clan and social conflict, those fleeing drought, demobilized soldiers seeking a place to re-establish their lives, poor families seeking employment, those leaving forced resettlement programs, people who were expelled from war situations, among other categories. Many of these displaced people were living in the same communities.