Conflicts in today’s world have a major impact on civilians. They are killed, injured and sometimes prevented from leaving or forced from their homes and livelihoods either as an indirect consequence of fighting, or increasingly as deliberate targets of war.
People’s human rights and humanitarian law are violated with impunity and the ‘humanitarian space’ required to help those in need is being eroded. More civilians are subjected to sexual violence and abuse in many of the world’s conflicts where this brutal crime is used deliberately to instil fear and to weaken resistance.
Today, over 35 million people have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods due to crises. Many of them become internally displaced, while others become refugees when crossing borders.
The main causes of current displacement are conflicts, climate change and extreme poverty, and to a growing extent, these causes are inter-related. Increasingly people in countries no longer at war continue to experience violence and abuse in the turbulent periods following peace agreements, as stability gradually returns. Conflict frequently returns to such countries, leading to fragile and volatile situations for civilians for protracted periods of time. These trends of increased violence against civilians and more complex displacement call for more emphasis on protection of people affected by armed conflict.