Internally displaced persons are defined as,

"Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border” (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 1998)

Are families with trans teens who leave Texas for another US state due to the effective implementation of Governor Abbott's order being formally counted under this definition?

(There is a related question of whether the US government uses the UN definitions, but let's leave that discussion there)


1 Answer 1


It depends on who does the counting. Questions like this either become meaningless (you appear to count them that way, so somebody does) or they start with the search for an authoritative source.

The UNHCR links to the IDMC, which is counting to 2020 only as I write this. They list disaster IDPs in the US, not conflict IDPs. So one option would be to wait a couple of years and check if that number rises above zero.

Or you look for other official sources. Every now and then there are news reports of US citizens claiming asylum or refugee status abroad, which tends to be newsworthy because of the novelty value and low numbers. Most of the applications are denied, with exceptions such as Edward Snowden in Russia. But for internally displaced persons, no asylum application is necessary. Wait and see if any other US state opens refugee camps?

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    Odd. I assumed if the status exists and is internationally recognized, that someone was keeping close track of it, even if I didn't quickly see them in a search. I'll reserve my upvote while I see if anyone can track down a better source, but from this it sounds like you may get it, together with my confusion. Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 14:15
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    @MikeSerfas, who would that someone be? The UNSC with five veto powers? The ICC which is fought tooth and nail by major powers? The Red Cross, which is trying to stay neutral?
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 14:18
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    Naively yes, I had assumed one of the latter two, or any number of "rapporteurs", might be keeping lists. If the nature of "human rights" is viewed as too subjective for any neutral agency to weigh in on, even in less-contested cases, doesn't that signify that the concept itself is considered to be a myth? Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 14:34
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    @MikeSerfas, not a myth, but a political bone of contention. And yes, there are reports, but only once someone has to build refugee camps and fund them. Or once somebody tries to score a political point by commissioning a report.
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 15:19
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    Are refugee camps a requirement to count as 'displaced'? Presumably people who feel the need to 'flee' within the US can simply move home. Would that stop them counting as IDPs?
    – Jontia
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:34

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