United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 131. Treatment of Displaced Persons
Section A. Provision of basic necessities
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides:
To the greatest practicable extent, removals of civil inhabitants must take place under satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health … and nutrition … and the transferred or evacuated protected persons must be provided with proper accommodation.
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), one of the conditions for the permissibility of an evacuation of an occupied area is that “to the greatest extent practicable … proper accommodation is provided … and movement takes place under satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.”
With regard to internal armed conflicts in which the 1977 Additional Protocol II is applicable, the manual states:
It is forbidden to displace the civilian population for reasons related to the conflict unless their security or “imperative military reasons so demand”. If they do have to be displaced, “all possible measures” must be taken to provide satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.
In 2003, in a written reply to a question in the House of Commons on the “forced repatriation of Chechen internally displaced persons from their displacement camps in Ingushetia”, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
The UK has played a prominent role in international efforts to press the Russian Government to halt the closure of internally displaced persons camps in the North Caucasus. Bilaterally, we have informed the Russian Government that the suspension of food, water and energy supplies to the camps constituted, in our view, a forced closure and reminded Russia of her obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The UK has also initiated and helped draft a number of EU demarches, calling for the closure of the camps to be stopped. We were therefore encouraged by President Putin’s statement last month that the closures should be halted. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and take further action if necessary.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated in reply to a question on “people internally displaced as a result of the conflict in Iraq”:
We have talked to the various NGOs that may have to deal with some of the IDPs [internally displaced persons], and to the countries that may be affected as people try to move towards their borders. We have been seeking agreements with other countries about how they will respond to the refugees coming towards their borders. We have also been talking to the military, who will obviously come across IDPs very quickly. We have discussed how they will ensure that those people’s safety is guaranteed and how they will ensure that IDPs get the humanitarian aid that they need as quickly as possible.