After five years of fighting, an estimated 40% of the population still residing in Syria are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Recognizing the paucity of knowledge about their situation, this policy brief explores the risk that Syria’s IDPs are systematically exploited by the various armed actors in the conflict, be that through recruitment, control over humanitarian support, offering protection, or socialization. What is known gives serious reason for concern. IDPs have a right, codified in the 1998 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, to ‘be protected against discriminatory practices of recruitment into any armed forces or groups as a result of the displacement’. When groups successfully recruit, gain the support of, and control resources aimed at, IDPs, the negative effects are considerable. In the short-term, increased capacity manifests itself in an intensification of the conflict; in the long-term, the experiencing of violence and the hardening of attitudes makes conflicts much more difficult to resolve.
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