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Lesson plans for ages 15-18 in Geography: Internally Displaced People

Teaching Tools, 24 October 2006

© UNHCR/N.Behring
After years of living in the squalid conditions of the former Soviet compound in Kabul, internally displaced Afghans return to their land on the Shomali Plain.

LESSONS 3 and 4: Internal conflict and displacement around the world

Preparation

Refer to "The biggest failure of the international community" [PDF, 952Kb] for background information to this lesson.

Procedure

It is suggested that this lesson be treated as a lecture by the teacher.

Ensure that a large world map, or several large regional/continental maps, are available on the walls of the classroom, for reference during the lesson.

Points to bring out in the lecture include:

  • Internal displacement occurs during very destructive armed civil conflicts, with large numbers, short notice and people congregated.
  • Internal displacement also occurs during lower-intensity, drawn-out, widespread conflict.
  • Government and non-government forces may deliberately and forcibly relocate large numbers of people.
  • Sometimes IDPs and refugees live side by side in a region, with different legal status, but identical needs for protection and assistance.
  • Upon returning home, IDPs and refugees face similar problems.
  • During a civil war, people forced to stay, unable to flee, may suffer much worse than others who reach safety, either as refugees or as IDPs.
  • Close by asking the class: When does a person stop being internally displaced? Who decides, and on what basis, when a place of internal exile becomes a new home?

Review and Application

Ask the following questions, which will check the students' understanding of the concept of IDPs and require them to think through the implications of the status of these persons:

  • Explain the crucial differences between refugees and IDPs.
  • Internally displaced people are under whose jurisdiction? Why is that fact often a serious problem for them?
  • Why would it be difficult for a single international agency to accept responsibility for taking care of IDPs?
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