The Consortium for Street Children has collaborated with IDMC, Impact, and Plan International to produce a report on the key figures, challenges and opportunities for internally displaced youth. The report highlights the experiences of internally displaced girls, members of sexual minority groups and street-connected youth, showing the specific risks they can encounter.
Internally displaced young women and men, like all internally displaced people (IDPs), are impacted by displacement in multiple ways. As they are at a crucial time in their lives for their personal, social and professional development, they may have particular ways of facing the experience. They encounter specific risks and sometimes lack the resources to avoid them. They can also, however, find opportunity in the midst of adversity, if the right conditions are in place.
This report presents the first estimates of the number of IDPs between the ages of 15 and 24 at the global, regional and national levels for about 100 countries. Conflicts, violence and disasters resulted in nearly ten million young people living in displacement around the world at the end of 2019. This is the highest figure ever recorded, although it is likely an underestimate.
This report also includes an overview of some of the most recurring challenges young people face in internal displacement. Their age, gender, disability status and socioeconomic background, as well as other factors, play a significant role.
This report is intended to raise awareness of the need to include young IDPs in plans to prevent and respond to displacement, to ensure adequate support for all, and to make the most of the resilience and resources young people can display under such circumstances.
Street-connected internally displaced adolescents
The report highlights particular issues faced by street-connected youth, as many young people who live on, work on, or have another strong connection to the street have experienced internal displacement.
Some of the main conclusions of the report regarding street-connected youth are:
- Many adolescents in street situations struggle to exercise their rights and access public services, such as education, healthcare, sanitation and housing. These problems may also be exacerbated by the experience of being displaced and arriving in a new and unfamiliar place.
- Without support, many internally displaced and street-connected youth turn to harmful or dangerous kinds of work in the informal sector to survive, such as street vending, transporting luggage, collecting rubbish for sale, shoe-shining, car-washing and begging. These activities leave them vulnerable to discrimination and exploitation.
- COVID-19 has led to opportunities for work on the street ‘drying up’ as cities impose lockdowns, putting people without access to support at risk of starvation.
- Many adolescents on the street have experienced or will experience human trafficking or modern slavery, and forced recruitment into armed forces or criminal gangs is endemic in some contexts. Young people displaced by conflict are particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment.
- Displaced adolescents on the streets often find themselves in cramped living conditions with inadequate access to sanitation facilities. Coupled with disproportionately high rates of pre-existing conditions, such as asthma and pneumonia, this can put their health at risk.