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August 13, 2008

Iraq's Internally Displaced Persons: A Hidden Crisis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, and Sommer Scholar, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Dr Morton); Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Burnham).

JAMA. 2008;300(6):727-729. doi:10.1001/jama.300.6.727

Internal displacement and refugee flight due to violence and instability have forced approximately 1 in 6 Iraqis from their homes.1 The plight of persons displaced within Iraq by pervasive violence has received less attention than has the flood of Iraqi refugees into neighboring countries. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Iraq now number 2.8 million2 and are far less accessible to aid organizations than Iraqi refugees.3 While the protection and care of refugees are covered in an international mandate, IDPs, fleeing for the same reasons as refugees, are covered by the weaker Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.4 Political issues over sovereignty are at the root of this disparity.