A great number of people are forcibly uprooted from their homes without crossing national frontiers. Refugees displaced within a country or jurisdiction cannot be assisted by international bodies and are all too often deprived of care because opposing forces in any conflict deny humanitarian organizations access to the places where they are located. Such refugees thus run the risk of premature death because of the unhealthy conditions to which they are exposed, malnutrition and the risk of epidemics.
With the establishment of safe havens for the Kurds of northern Iraq as a precedent, the UN High Commission for Refugees reluctantly agreed in 1992 that there are situations where the UN is entitled to intervene to protect the needs of the internally displaced even without the consent of national governments.
In 1993 it was estimated that the number of displaced people who have been driven from home but have not crossed international borders -- in former Yugoslavia, in the republics of the former Soviet Union (including Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Tajikistan), in Iraq and elsewhere -- total around 24 million. Many of them are beyond help from humanitarian agencies.