Displaced persons face particular difficulties in housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Many have lost their homes and were forced to flee. Finding shelter in displacement can be one of the toughest challenges. When they return after conflict ends, they may find their homes destroyed or occupied by others.
Our HLP work makes up the largest component of our information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA) services. Our experts work with a range of justice mechanisms – traditional, religious and statutory – to help solve disputes over HLP. We always provide services free of charge.
NRC co-chairs the Housing Land and Property Area of Responsibility under the Global Protection Cluster.
What are HLP rights?
Drawn from international humanitarian and human rights law, HLP rights entitle displaced people to a safe home, free from eviction. HLP rights are an essential stepping stone for displaced people to rebuild their lives.
Disputes over land tenure are often at the centre of conflict. When conflict ends, disputes over occupied property are a continued source of instability. They often undermine long-lasting solutions for returning populations, and may threaten fragile peace agreements.
Women’s HLP rights
Even before conflict, women are disadvantaged when it comes to HLP. Land ownership remains largely restricted to men, by both tradition and law.
Conflict makes these inequalities worse and affects women in particular ways. Women's access to HLP is often through inheritance or marriage. But they are denied this by families and communities who follow traditions that limit women's rights.
When displaced widows return to their homes, they can be evicted by their families and even lose custody of their children. Women without secure HLP rights can face impossible choices between staying in an abusive relationship or leaving and becoming homeless.
HLP can be the only economic assets displaced women have. Many are left with few real options but to challenge their families and communities to gain independent access to these assets. NRC prioritises supporting these women to claim their HLP rights. Read more about our work on HLP for women.
A leader in HLP training
For over five years, NRC's Housing, land and property Training Course has taught tens of thousands of people about HLP rights worldwide. Each year, we train displaced people, humanitarian organisations, local organisations and governments about displaced people's rights.
We also have a course specifically on women’s HLP rights. Our HLP Training Manual is available in four languages.
Our designed tools and training materials on collaborative dispute resolution support our staff’s capacity to address and resolve a range of HLP issues affecting displaced people.
With our position as a leading researcher in displaced people’s HLP rights, the humanitarian community uses our reports to highlight HLP issues that affect displaced people worldwide.
NRC and IFRC, as co-chairs of the Housing, Land and Property Area of Responsibility (AoR) under the Global Protection Cluster, have launched a new joint report on The Importance of Addressing Housing, Land and Property (HLP) Challenges in Humanitarian Response. The report highlights eight reasons why HLP issues need to be addressed from the onset of a humanitarian response.
Forced displacement and access to housing, land and property in the Far North of Cameroon
The ongoing armed conflict in the Lake Chad Basin region has caused mass displacement in northeast Nigeria and the Far North of Cameroon forcing people to flee the violence and abandon their homes. This Far North of Cameroon is currently hosting some 89,000 Nigerian refugees, 236,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 59,000 returnees. The situation remains fragile with an estimated total of 2.1 million in need of assistance.
Finding a “middle way” to solve Myanmar’s land disputes
Land disputes are often a political and social minefield. When it comes to land rights, even the smallest disagreement can raise tensions for farmers, families, communities, governments and ethnic armed organisations. Such disagreements can escalate into conflicts and fuel civil wars. It is therefore vital to find practical ways of addressing issues at the earliest possible stage.
Giving Myanmar's displaced their land back
The Norwegian Refugee Council and Displacement Solutions have produced the report "Addressing Myanmar's Unsettled Restitution Gap" to advocate and help find ways for displaced people in Myanmar to be able to return home and recover their property and possessions.