The conflict situation in the Sahel has created one of the fastest growing displacement crises in the world with more than 2.5 million people displaced over the past decade. International donors have largely dealt with the crises by supporting humanitarian efforts to provide emergency aid to IDPs. This policy brief argues that this response is important but ultimately inadequate; donors should start viewing IDPs as a key element to enable (regional) stability. Moving IDPs from the exclusive realm of humanitarians to stabilization, brings to the fore a policy tension that carries the promise a policy reconciliation. National governments in the Sahel push for the return of IDPs to their regions of origin in an effort to secure, re-populate and ‘stabilize’ abandoned territories (a effort that remains complex in a dire security context). But those international donors who do ‘stabilization’ leave IDPs completely off the radar and miss their constructive potential. This brief calls for international partners to pay greater attention to the crisis of internal displacement in the Sahel. Such policies have to make IDPs themselves one of the actors that can help bring ‘stability’ to conflict affected settings and, in that way, also speak to their (humanitarian) needs by providing long-term prospects of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.
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