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Published on October 12th, 2012 | by EJC

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A New Tool In The Box: The PARK Database

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, over 26 million people “currently live in situations of internal displacement as a result of conflicts or human rights violations.” While this figure is more than twice that of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) receive much less attention from the international community and the media. The lack of available information is an important factor in this issue, but journalists covering IDP situations now have a new tool to inform their reporting.

The Profiling and Assessment Resource Kit (PARK) is a “field-to-field information sharing platform” for methodologies, guidelines and other practical resources used by IDP profilers. Over 250 final reports on IDP situations have already been uploaded, making PARK a valuable source of information, especially for investigative reporting, follow-up stories and coverage of protracted conflicts. The database also gives journalists much greater insight into the profiling and assessment processes and therefore a clearer picture of some of the operations surrounding IDP situations.

The PARK Database

The database is a joint initiative of the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) and the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS). EmergencyJournalism.net recently spoke to Assanke Koedam, head of the project, who said that journalists will soon be able to access to more IDP data through a planned database on the JIPS website. IDP datasets contain basic information (population size, location, ethnic make up, age breakdown and gender) as well as the movements and stated needs and wants of the IDPs. This represents an opportunity, particularly for data journalists, to reveal trends and developments in IDP situations, and expose shortcomings in addressing them, policy gaps and possible solutions.

PARK as a model for field-to-field sharing

The concept of PARK, which makes profiling more efficient by encouraging knowledge sharing and eliminating the need for weighty handbooks, is new among humanitarian organisations, says Koedam. Observing the success it has had so far, other departments within the UNHCR, where JIPS is hosted, are hoping to create similar platforms. The team who created PARK are now showing others how the platform was created and Koedam believes that “at least within the UNHCR, this is something a lot of departments will use for their own areas.”

Displaced women in Gouroukoun IDP site gather to speak to members of the UN Security Council, 2006.  Hélène Caux/UNHCR

Why is this important?

Since the mid-20th century there has been a marked shift from inter-state wars to intra-state conflicts. These conflicts create millions of IDPs who, because they have not crossed an international border, remain under the control of the government and are not protected by international law. Protracted intra-state conflicts are often forgotten or ignored by the international mass media because of a perceived lack of news value. Those responsible are thus less likely to be held accountable as a result.

Photo: Ian Britton

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