Africa: U.S. Official Urges More Help for Displaced Persons

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide more assistance to the world's internally displaced persons.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide more assistance to the world's internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Speaking December 11 at a UNHCR meeting in Geneva, Richard, who directs the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, said: "We need to convert the widespread interest in today's topic into ensuring that the protection of 30 million or more internally displaced persons around the world is more effective and consistent."

Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons are people who have been displaced from their homes but who have not crossed an internationally recognized border. Millions of civilians are made homeless each year by internal conflicts or by natural disaster, such as that shown above from the typhoon that hit the Philippines in November 2013 and destroyed the homes of some 4 million people.

Richard urged increased cooperative efforts among the U.N. agencies, governments and nongovernmental organizations to ensure that the needs of IDPs are met and that their rights and privileges as citizens are protected.

She also strongly urged that the role of the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons be expanded and strengthened.

"We count on the special rapporteur to be an aggressive voice of conscience," Richard said. "Governments should facilitate his unhindered travel to analyze displacement crises around the world."

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