[DRAFT] Delving Deeper
Comprehensive policy perspectives into forcible displacement
London Politica is the world’s largest political risk advisory for social impact. It aims to democratise access to political risk analysis by offering tailored support to a diverse range of organisations and companies who operate in some of the globe’s most volatile environments, but do not necessarily have the capacity traditionally to employ such counsel. With a team of over 240 people from 43 countries, speaking 37 languages, London Politica has worked with clients across a diverse range of sectors and geographies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations World Food Programme (Afghanistan), Global Citizen, and Humanaid.
Nostos Homes and London Politica have collaborated since early 2022, motivated by a common interest in generating positive social impact. London Politica has provided assistance to the growth of Nostos Homes’s operations in India and Malawi through due diligence investigations and risk mapping across economies and sectors. A shared interest in understanding the problem of forcible displacement and seeking impactful solutions has motivated this research project into the policy landscape and political risks of forcible displacement from conflict and natural disasters.
POLICY PERSPECTIVES ON FORCIBLE DISPLACEMENT
Forcible displacement is a global crisis affecting millions worldwide due to conflicts, persecution, and natural disasters. This report focuses on the profound impact of this phenomenon in Asian and African countries, including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia. These regions have experienced a significant share of displacement incidents as a result of ongoing conflicts and catastrophic natural events, leading to the upheaval of countless populations.
The report presents these countries as case studies, offering insights into the challenges faced by displaced individuals, encompassing social and economic disintegration and severe humanitarian crises. By spotlighting the stories of these nations, the report underscores the urgent need to comprehend the complexities of forcible displacement, emphasizing the importance of implementing effective policies and solutions to alleviate the suffering of affected communities and work towards a brighter future for them.
Guiding questions for the case studies
What is the context of forcible displacement?
(Political, social, economic, demographic)
What were the responses by governments towards the issue?
Were the policy responses effective and well-received?
What are the political risks that have emerged from the forcible displacement issue? (Local/regional/international)
How many people were displaced due to natural disaster or conflicts in the given country?
Was there a large NGO/ international relief effort?
What are the expected trends of forcible displacement in the future? (example: from expected climate change impacts)
POLICY PERSPECTIVES ON FORCIBLE DISPLACEMENT
Since the military seized control in a coup in 2021, the military has instituted a campaign of terror and violence upon citizens, resulting in over 15,500 arrests, 2,100 killings, and reports of torture and crimes against humanity. The people of Myanmar have pinned their hopes on a ceasefire agreement and the promise of a democratic government but continued violent repression in different parts of the country has inflicted more suffering on IDPs. The military has put in place a system of physical and administrative restrictions on the conduct of humanitarian operations, as well as imposing a ‘digital dictatorship’. Persistent insecurity has had a dire impact on humanitarian access, with roadblocks and difficulties in obtaining access permits for aid distribution further complicated by restrictions linked to COVID-19. As a result, over 1,927,200 are internally displaced throughout Myanmar.
The largest exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh of around 1 million people began in 2017, due to the Myanmar military’s coordinated campaign of violence against them. Many Rohingya refugees live in crowded refugee camps and are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance for food, water, and shelter, placing unprecedented pressure on Bangladesh's resources and infrastructure. This has socio-economic repercussions on host communities as they compete for limited resources. In addition, the Rohingya community is often seen as a threat contributing to the rise in violence and drug trafficking. Faced with deteriorating security in the camps, donor fatigue, the country's competing financial and social crises, and the possibility of host communities scapegoating the refugees in the upcoming 2024 elections, Bangladesh began talks with Myanmar to set up a pilot repatriation project. This project has caused considerable controversy and Bangladesh has been advised to suspend the programme, as the conditions under the military junta in Myanmar are not conducive to the safe return of the Rohingya.
Between June and October 2022, around 8.2 million people were displaced in Pakistan as a result of the devastating floods of the monsoon season. The floods have affected 33 million people in 90 different districts across the country, leaving 1,739 dead and 12,867 injured. Around 10.5 million people in more than 43 districts were facing food insecurity, and almost 1.8 million people are living in conditions of poor water security. Declining agricultural production, rising inflation, acute food insecurity and the potential public health crisis caused by water-borne diseases pose additional risks to social stability within displaced communities, worsening the already dire security situation. In some provinces, such as Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the situation could be exacerbated by the current political threats posed by ethnic and national terrorist groups. The displaced community could be more exposed to deadly conflicts between the army and insurgent groups. The unstable security situation poses problems not only for relief operations, but also for the relocation and safe return of IDPs.
Over 12 million people were affected by super typhoon Odette in December 2021, and were forced to seek refuge in evacuation centres or makeshift shelters. Overcrowded evacuation centres posed a challenge to maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols, increasing the likelihood of contracting the virus. In addition, access to food, water, sanitation, healthcare, psychosocial support and livelihoods was severely affected, as was access to vital infrastructure such as electricity and communications, exacerbating the difficulties faced by victims in the aftermath of the typhoon. Typhoon Odette disproportionately affected marginalised communities, particularly those dependent on industries such as agriculture and fishing. Around 2.2 million workers were directly affected by the typhoon. Located along the typhoon belt and exposed to the Pacific Ocean, the country faces the recurring threat of devastating weather phenomena, with an average of 20 typhoons a year, as well as earthquakes and floods. With inadequate infrastructure and socio-economic vulnerabilities compounding the risks, the country is likely to face recurring and intensifying challenges in the wake of these disasters.
Over 3 million people have become internally displaced since the conflict began on 15th April. Since the 2019 coup, tensions mounted between the two military leaders, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia. The numbers of displaced, injured, and killed continue to rise as there is currently no end in sight for the civil war. The insecurity has also resulted in hundreds of thousands fleeing across borders, impacting Sudan’s regional neighbours and spreading concerns of instability and financial strains. Many, including those from South Sudan, are becoming refugees for at least a second time. Due to heavy artillery, humanitarian aid access to those in need within Sudan is incredibly limited. Aid has also been diverted by the military, destroyed in bombardments, and looted. As negotiations are currently in hiatus at the time of this writing, providing assistance to displaced persons both within and outside of Sudan is arduous and funding needs continue to increase by the week.
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to the largest population of displaced people in Africa as a result of decades of protracted conflict. In 2022, more than 4 million Congolese were displaced, representing 20% of the total population. Displacement rates will remain high in 2023, mainly affecting women and children. The greatest risk associated with mass displacement in the DRC is the continuation of conflict, particularly in the Eastern DRC. This incredibly ethnically diverse region, endowed with a wealth of natural resources, is largely devoid of even the most basic security services. In this context, the failure to provide millions of internally and externally displaced people with basic services and/or economic opportunities is fuelling the conflict. Increased tensions within and between regional states, all of which host Congolese refugees, are another major risk for continued displacement in the DRC. There was no improvement in the DRC last year and none is expected for 2023-2024 due to increased conflict and lack of funding. In addition, political instability and electoral violence are increasingly likely in the run-up to the December elections.
Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years. Between June and December 2022, south-eastern Ethiopia experienced one of the worst droughts on record in the Horn of Africa, affecting 12 million people. In January 2023, drought replaced internal violence as the main cause of displacement for 781,344 IDPs. The drought has had a devastating impact on food security throughout the country, impacting an estimated 20 million people. Livelihoods are also severely undermined, with three-quarters of the country's workforce and 40% of its GDP depend on agriculture. Much of the government's response remains affected by civil unrest, ongoing climatic shocks and a failing economy that is hampering response capacity. Furthermore, attempts to supply humanitarian aid have been disrupted by internal conflicts and pressing international concerns, such as the war in Ukraine and the impact of Covid-19. Forcible climate displacement has exacerbated regional political tensions. In both Tigray and Amhara, the large influx of newly displaced people has aggravated existing tensions. It is expected that recovery will only be possible over a long period of favourable climatic seasons in the future. Worsening weather conditions, together with ethnic tensions that lead to conflict, will create additional pressure on a country that cannot assist those in need, leading to further displacement and death.
Weather-related disasters are the main cause of displacement in Somalia. The country is currently experiencing the longest and most severe drought in 40 years. Since mid-March 2023, flooding has also hit the central regions of Somalia, displacing 140,000 people. The droughts and floods have led to the destruction of more than 4 million head of livestock and the loss of agricultural income, creating a serious situation of malnutrition throughout the country and favouring the spread of malaria and cholera. Conflict is the second cause of displacement. Al-Shabaab still maintains control over important parts of the country’s rural territories. Al-Shabaab continues to control large parts of the country's rural territories. Al-Shabaab's predatory governance has caused some people to migrate to government-controlled territories, but most displacement is due to fighting between the state army and the terrorist group. Since February 2023, fighting has also broken out between federal forces in the self-proclaimed independent region of Somaliland and local clans attempting to join the Somali government. The number of displaced people is expected to remain high in the short and long term. The humanitarian needs of displaced people are also likely to worsen in the absence of any significant improvement in the funding of relief missions or government efforts.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Lauren Chan is a Research Director of the Indo-Pacific Watch at London Politica. She is a student of international affairs in the Dual Master’s degree between Sciences Po Paris and Columbia University, specialising in energy and environmental policy.
Marina Tovar is Director of the Intelligence Department at London Politica. She is a student of Security, Intelligence, and Strategic Studies in the Joint Master’s Degree by the University of Glasgow, Dublin City University, and Charles University, specialising in terrorism and crisis management.
Ethan Sanderson is a Senior Analyst at London Politica’s Africa Watch. He holds a MA in Conflict, Security, and Development from King’s College London.
James Davis is a student of the MA International Relations degree at King’s College London and is a Research Analyst at London Politica’s Africa Watch.
Gayathri Sreedhar is a Research Analyst at London Politica. She is currently enrolled in the Global Mental Health and Society Master’s program at the University of Edinburgh, and also holds a Master’s degree in International Studies.
Charlotte Higgs is a Research Analyst at London Politica’s Conflict & Security Watch. She is a fourth year PhD student in Law at the University of Warwick specialising in International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice.
Manon Leprince is a Research Director at London Politica, leading the Conflict & Security Watch. She specialises in foreign policy and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on Oceania.
Natasha Louis is the Research Director of Africa Watch at London Politica. She holds a MS in Global Affairs with a concentration in transnational security from NYU.
Paloma Lier is a Senior Analyst at London Politica’s Africa Watch. She holds a bachelors in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Faizah S Chy is a Research Analyst at London Politica’s Conflict & Security Watch. She is a student in the Master’s of International Relations with a specialisation in International Law from the University of Sydney.
Xingyi Wang is a Research Analyst at London Politica’s Conflict & Security Watch. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English Literature at Tsinghua University with a minor in International Politics. She specializes in international security and conflict studies.
Devanshu Bhardwaj serves as Nostos Homes’ Chief Design Officer. He has led the development of multiple innovative solutions that help make Nostos shelters accessible to some of the world’s most vulnerable and impacted displaced communities.