Forced Displacement

Forced displacement refers to the involuntary or coerced movement of people who leave their homes, home regions, or country due to conflict, persecution, violence, or ethnic cleansing. Persons experiencing forced displacement may be referred to as displaced persons or if within their home country may be called internally displaced persons.

Forcibly displaced persons are fleeing conflict, violence, or other peril in search of security. They often experience trauma, do not have assets, and generally end up in destinations where there are few, if any, opportunities to work.

Most displaced persons are from and are hosted in developing countries, presenting challenges for the impoverished and vulnerable, particularly women, children, and the aged.

The term displaced person was first used during WWII to describe the flow of refugees from Eastern Europe. In this context, displacement referred to persons removed from their home country as a prisoner, slave laborers, or refugees.

Forced displacement may result from natural disasters. Displacement may be temporary or permanent depending on the scope of the conflict or disaster.

Other forced displacement may include:
– Human trafficking: persons displaced through deception or coercion for exploitation.
– Slavery: persons forcibly displaced for the purpose of forced labor. A prime example of this is the Atlantic Slave Trade of the Middle Passage during the 15th – 19th centuries. An estimated 20 million Africans were captured during the Middle Passage. Nearly half of those captured died en route to the African Coast, and another 20 percent died on slave ships.
– Ethnic Cleansing: forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from the territory by a more powerful group. Examples of ethnic cleansing include the removal of the indigenous people of North America, the Catholic removal of European Protestants, and the removal of Serbian and non-Albanian people from Kosovo.