Preventing displacement is obviously a worthwhile objective. Being displaced puts people at a higher risk of being both impoverished and unable to enjoy their human rights. Such a situation is worth preventing – but not at any cost.
People know that displacement brings with it risks and vulnerabilities such as loss of land and work, homelessness, food insecurity, health risks, loss of access to common resources such as education, and possibly destruction of social networks upon which people depend, particularly during a crisis. “The effects of displacement can last a lifetime and beyond, damaging the prospects of future generations,” says Valerie Amos in the opening article. “We can do more to prevent displacement and the suffering it brings.” It is important, however, to preserve the possibility of displacement when that is a choice, or indeed a necessity, and it is also worth remembering that two of the three traditional durable solutions – return and resettlement – both involve further displacement.
Addressing the causes of displacement – such as violent conflict, housing that cannot withstand a natural disaster, or a government that cannot guarantee a sustainable infrastructure – is the focus of some of the articles in this issue of FMR. Others look at how to manage situations that might cause displacement so as to make staying a better option. And yet others look at the legal and institutional context within which all this occurs.