Paper: In search of the invisible displaced persons: Revisiting the construct of Internal Displacement

Paper details

Paper authors Dereje Regasa
In panel on The challenge of reframing displacement in recent times - The actors and meanings of terms
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Internal displacement is among the most pressing humanitarian crises with the Global South being the most affected. However, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are underrepresented in humanitarian policy and in academia. While the attention to IDPs is increasing, the extent to which the label in effect embraces all circumstances of internal displacement can be questioned. We argue that this calls for a revision and contextualization of the concept of IDPs. Hence, drawing on a survey of literature and concrete examples from Ethiopia, the article revisits the concept of IDPs with the central aim of broadening understanding. By tracing it’s emerging, evolution and underlying assumptions, the findings shows that the IDP label dominantly refers to displaced people in refugee like situations. As a result, a large number of IDPs are rendered invisible, such as those who are forcedly resettled or left unintegrated. Concretizing processes of displacement within the Ethiopian case, further illustrates the consequence of using narrow conceptualization and again advances insights in possible drivers. This illustrates the need for the scholarship to go beyond the policy labels and adopt a contextualized understanding of IDPs, what is needed to improve IDP research and governance.



Dereje Regasa
Ine Lietaert