Tens of millions of people
worldwide are classified as “internally displaced,” meaning that they are
living in their native countries but have been forced to relocate from their
homes due to violence, conflict, or violations of their human rights. In this lesson, students use video
segments from the PBS series Women, War
& Peace as well as information from the Internal Displacement Monitoring
Centre and the United Nations to learn more about internally displaced
populations existing in nations and territories today, the types of threats and
discrimination they face, and what can be done to help their situations.
Students will be able to:
- Define “internally displaced person”
and describe internal displacement situations worldwide;
- Explain the discrimination, threats,
and internal displacement concerns facing the Afro-Colombian population;
- Analyze and utilize documents to
present an overview of internally displaced populations in specific countries
Demonstrate an understanding of “durable solutions”
for internally displaced persons.
(3-4) 45-minute class periods
Cauca's Most Valuable Resources Video
Legal Struggles Video
Cycle of Violence Video
Return to the Land? Video
The Cost of Human Rights Video
For each pair or group of 3-4 students:
Internally Displaced Populations
IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced
Persons Quick Reference Guide
Global Database – Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
Internal Displacement Monitoring Center: 2010 Global Overview of Trends and Development
Law 70 Campaign
IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced
Persons Quick Reference Guide
For additional information on internally displaced persons, humanitarian aid
efforts to internally displaced populations, and human rights, students may
wish to visit the following websites:
– The UN Refugee Agency
Committee of the Red Cross
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Before The Lesson
If desired, make enough copies of the Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement for each student.
Make enough copies of the IASC Framework on
Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons Quick Reference Guide for
each student. Print only pages 3 and
4 of the PDF (pages iii and iv of the document).
For the Culminating Activity, you may wish to provide the following links to students to help them find the appropriate personnel to direct their letters:
Part I: Introductory Activity
- Begin class by asking students if they are familiar with the term “refugee.” If so, ask them to provide a definition, and write it on the board.(Their definition of the term may include that a refugee is someone that is oppressed, persecuted, or threatened, and has fled from his or her home.The key part of the definition is that a refugee no longer lives in his or her home country.)Tell students that the United Nations Refugee Agency classifies a refugee as a person who, because of “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside of the country of his nationality and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
- Ask students if they are familiar with the term “internally displaced person.” If so, ask them to provide a definition and
write it on the board. (Similar to the definition of refugee, but without fleeing their home country.) Once they have come up with their definition,
or if they are unfamiliar with the term, tell students that internally
displaced persons, or IDPs, are often wrongly referred to as refugees, but the key
difference is that IDPs have not crossed an international border in search of
sanctuary or protection. While IDPs often flee their homes for the same reason as refugees, since they remain in their home country they remain under the protection of their home government – even if that government has been the cause of their troubles. Ask students why they think people would
choose to remain in their home countries rather than leave, attaining refugee
status and reaping potential benefits and aid?
students if they can think of any internally displaced populations in American
or world history. (Native Americans, Japanese-Americans in the US or Jews in Europe in
World War II, New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina.) Ask students what they think are some of the
causes of internal displacement.(Accept all answers.)Tell students that in the Guiding Principles on Internal
Displacement, the United Nation’s internal standards document regarding
IDPs, considers legitimate causes of internal displacement to be: armed
conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, and
natural or man-made violence. These are
broad categories, and may include any specific causes mentioned by students,
including ethnic cleansing, civil war, hurricanes, economic development, etc.
the following questions on the board, or project them on a screen for the
class, and give students five minutes to write down their thoughts and
responses to the questions.
internal displacement of persons ever have a justified cause?
internally displaced people a burden on their government or country?
women and men be treated differently in situations of internal
internally displaced persons expect the same comfort and treatments as
would get in their homes?
Have students log on to the website for the Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement
, or make copies and distribute
each student. (For class purposes, use
the English version of the text, as it is the original and authoritative
edition; however if students speak English as a secondary language and
prefer to read the document in their primary language in order to gain a
understanding of the text, they are encouraged to do so on their own
time.) Ask students to go to page 2 of the document,
starting with Section I: General
Principles. Go around the room,
asking each student to read one section, paragraph, or principle aloud.
Encourage students to pause for reflection or
discussion if they so desire, or have questions. Stop at the end of
Principle 9, “States are
under a particular obligation to protect against the displacement of
peoples, minorities, peasants, pastoralists and other groups with a
dependency on and attachment to their lands.”
Have students look at the questions on the board again and think about
their answers. Do they agree with their
original answers after reading some of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. What, if anything, would they change? Why?
Part II: Learning Activity 1
- Tell students that there are millions of internally displaced persons worldwide, but
the country with the largest number of IDPs is Colombia. The most current figures, as stated in the 2010
Global Overview of Trends and Development issued by the Internal
Displacement Monitoring Center, estimate that between 8 and 11.6% of Colombia’s
population (3.6 – 5.2 million people) is displaced. This is due to several of the causes
discussed in the Introductory Activity, notably armed conflict and human rights
violations. Tell students that you are
going to show them a short video segment from the PBS series Women,
War and Peace introducing them to the current displacement situation in
Colombia, and some of the notable community activists involved. Ask students, as they watch the video, to pay
special attention to who is being displaced, and why? Play Cauca's Most Valuable Resources. When Cauca's Most Valuable Resourceshas finished,review the following questions with the class:
On a class computer, or on students’ individual computers, go to the Law
70 Campaign page at the Afro-Colombian News website.Read through the page together as a class. When finished, have students
summarize and present a brief overview, in their own words, of what the Law
70 Campaign is.(Legislation
passed by the Colombian government in 1993 protecting Afro-Colombians’ civil
and property rights.) What protection
does Law 70 ostensibly provide for Afro-Colombians? (Protects
ancestral territories, economic development, cultural identity and civil
rights, community councils, peaceful and sustainable practices.)Tell students that you are going to show them another video segment that deals with legal interactions within the Afro-Colombian
community in Cauca. Students should observe anything they perceive to be a violation of Law 70, or of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
Play Legal Struggles. When Legal Struggles is finished, ask students to share their observations of potential violations of Law 70 and/or the Global Database – Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.(Answers may include: government not protecting Afro-Colombian communities, not respecting the authority of the community council,discriminating against Afro-Colombians, not exploring feasible alternatives to displacement, not protecting from arbitrary displacement in favor of large scale development projects, not protecting groups with dependency on/attachment to lands.) Ask students if they agree with Clemencia Carabali when she says that Colombia has some of the best laws to protect Afro-Colombians, but they only exist on paper. Why or why not? Discuss.Have
students review their copies or revisit the site for the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement on Internal Displacement, and review Principles 10 and 11. Remind students that Colombia has had a long
history of civil war and violence, and that both rebel and paramilitary groups
have not completely disappeared from the country’s landscape, despite the
government’s claims to the contrary.In the next video segment, ask students to think about how the country’s “cycle of violence is being perpetuated by displacement and/or the threat of displacement. Play Cycle of Violence. When Cycle of Violence is finished, ask students how they think the culture of violence is being kept alive in Colombia in relation to the displacement of the Afro-Colombian community. What specific fears or threats does Clemencia Carabali face? What about Francia Marquez?As
students know from the Introductory Activity and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, a nation’s government has quite a bit of responsibility when it
comes to both protecting displaced citizens, and ensuring that more citizens –
especially those in persecuted or discriminated ethnic or racial groups – do
not face displacement for illegal reasons.
Ask students, based on what they already know and the videos they have
already seen, what they think the Colombian government could do to help both
Afro-Colombians that have already been displaced, and those, like the residents
of La Toma, who face future eviction and displacement. (Accept
all answers, but encourage answers such as: revoke Hector Sarria’s title to the
La Toma mines, cancel eviction, provide services for IDPs, deny requests for
mining claims, track down/prosecute those making threats.) Tell students that you are going to show them
a video segment of some of the government’s actual responses to the
situation. Play Return to the Land? When Return to the Land? is finished, ask students what the government’s responses were to the situation. (The
new president vowed to give land back to poor/displaced citizens, armed police
officers were sent to La Toma to enforce the eviction with only 24 hours’
notice but the eviction was cancelled the next day.) Why didn’t the government’s actions match the students’ suggestions for action?
students that you are going to play one final video segment from Women, War and Peace. As they watch this segment, think about how IDPs
in Colombia are being affected by government policies. Play The Cost of Human Rights. Review with students, from what they saw in the segment, how the U.S. aid to Colombia works.
(The U.S. provides financial aid to Colombia but it is contingent on Colombia meeting specific human rights conditions – like protecting the Afro-Colombian population.) Do students agree that the displacement of Afro-Colombian communities is a human rights violation?Why or why not? Do they agree that this is a fair condition for the U.S. to withhold aid to Colombia?
Why or why not? Discuss.Tell students that ultimately Francia Marquez and the residents of La Toma won their case with Colombia’s Constitutional Court in December 2010, and Hector Sarria’s mining license –as well as up to 30 other illegal mining permits – was suspended. While this prevents the residents of La Toma and other Afro-Colombian mining communities from eviction and displacement, it doesn’t help people like Clemencia Carabali and her family, and the millions of IDPs living in Colombia currently. Ask students what they think the Colombian
government could do to help its internally displaced population? Encourage class discussion.
- Where is Cauca? (Colombia’s Pacific Southwest coast)
is it perceived as important/valuable? (because
of its biodiversity and richness in natural resources, especially gold)
ethnic/racial group primarily populates this region? (Afro-Colombians)
are Afro-Colombians being driven from their land? (“Multinationals” and military groups want access to the region and its
resources, the government is not defending the Afro-Colombians’ property rights)
- What role do women play in the community? (Women
appear to be equal to men in terms of power in the community, they organize and lead, they are the heads of families, and participate and lead in community
Part III: Learning Activity 2
Colombia is the state with the most internally displaced persons, it is by no
means the only country suffering this problem.
As of December 2010 there were approximately 27.5 million people
displaced by conflict worldwide. The
region most affected by displacement is Africa, and five countries in the world
are home to over one million identified IDPs.
According to the Global
Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 from the Internal
Displacement Monitoring Center, members of minority groups (such as
Afro-Colombians) are often at a greater risk of being displaced, and frequently
experience additional discrimination during their displacement. The impact of displacement on populations
with a strong attachment to or dependency on their land, such as indigenous or
pastoralist groups is “disproportionately severe.” IDPs also routinely experience violations of
their physical security, including sexual and gender-based violence, abduction,
forced relocation, and arbitrary arrest.
In urban areas, women and children are especially at risk, as children
are recruited into gangs or armed military groups, and women are pressured to
engage in “undesirable economic activities.”
students that you would like them to research and find more information on
other nations in addition to Colombia where minority or indigenous populations
are the target of internal displacement and subsequent discrimination and/or
harassment. Divide class into pairs or
small groups, depending on class size, making sure that each pair or group has
access to a computer. Give each group a
piece of chart paper and markers. Assign
each pair/group a country or territory from the Internally Displaced Populations handout and have them use the link provided to visit that country’s
page on the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center’s website. (Do not assign a country/territory to more
than one group.) Students should try to
gain as much information as they can about the internally displaced population
in their assigned country or territory, looking at the “At A Glance” page, any
IDP News Alerts on the page, statistics, and maps, taking care to note any data
or information specifically pertaining to women, minority racial or ethnic
groups, indigenous populations, and lower-class or poverty-stricken
citizens. Pairs/groups should use the
markers and chart paper to create a summary (using text, graphics or a
combination) of their assigned country or territory’s current displacement
students have completed their summary pages, have the pairs/groups deliver
brief (five minutes or less) presentations on their country or territory. As they present, students should consider any
violations of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement that are
potentially being committed by that country or territory. Encourage class discussion.
students what, if anything, they learned about the treatment of internally
displaced persons while conducting their research on the IDMC website. Are there instances of marked discrimination
against IDPs? Do female IDPs experience
more discrimination or face more threats than male IDPs? Why do they think that is? How are internally displaced persons treated
by other IDPs? How are they treated by
non-displaced citizens in their home countries?
How are they treated by their home governments? Is this treatment in line with the Guiding Principles? Why or why not? Discuss as a class.
Part IV: Culminating Activity
students that although the primary responsibility for IDPs sits with their home
governments, many other nations’ governments, international governing agencies,
and NGOs are starting to intervene as displacement situations worldwide become
more severe. What, if anything, did
students find in their research regarding international or humanitarian aid to
nations or territories with large internally displaced populations?
that, ideally, the goal for all of these organizations – local governments,
international governments, international governing agencies, and NGOs – is to
find “durable solutions” for internally displaced persons. Distribute copies of the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced
Persons Quick Reference Guide to each student. Give
students 5 – 10 minutes to read through the Quick Reference Guide. Once students have read through the Guide, ask
them to brainstorm ideas, based on their research, knowledge, and pages hanging
in the classroom, of how durable solutions may be reached for the
nations/territories presented in the class.
Encourage students to think of solutions that may be of particular
economic and/or social benefit to women, who tend to suffer in those areas in
situations of internal displacement. This
may be done in pairs, groups, or as a class.
Discuss the ideas as a class.
an in-class or homework assignment, have students select one of the countries
or territories discussed in class, and write a letter to that
country/territory’s U.S. Department of State Ambassador, their embassy in the
U.S., or their UNHCR Field Office.
Students’ letters should express their opinions on the displacement
situation in their selected country or territory, and their thoughts on durable
solutions for internally displaced persons, once again placing a particular
emphasis on durable solutions for internally displaced women. Students are not required to send their
letters as part of the assignment, but are welcome to do so if they choose.