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Population transfer or Resettlement is the movement of a large group of people from one region to another, often a form of forced migration imposed by state policy or international authority and most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion. Banishment or exile is a similar process, but is forcibly applied to individuals and groups.

Often the affected population is transferred by force to a distant region, perhaps not suited to their way of life, causing them substantial harm. In addition, the loss of all immovable property and, when rushed, the loss of substantial amounts of movable property, is implied. This transfer may be motivated by the more powerful party's desire to make other uses of the land in question or, less often, by disastrous environmental or economic conditions that require relocation.

In Europe, the last major population transfer took place during expulsion of ethnic Germans from central and eastern Europe after World War II while the most tremendous population transfers in Europe account for ethnical politics of Soviet Union under Stalin leadership.

Population exchange is the transfer of two populations in opposite directions at about the same time. Such exchanges have taken place several times in the 20th century, such as during the partition of India and Pakistan and between post-Ottoman Turkey and Greece.

Issues arising from population transfer

According to the political scientist Norman Finkelstein transfer was considered as an acceptable solution to the problems of ethnic conflict, up until around World War II and even a little afterward, in certain cases. Transfer was considered a drastic but "often necessary" means to end an ethnic conflict or ethnic civil war.[1] The feasibility of population transfer was hugely increased by the creation of railroad networks from the mid-19th century.

Population transfer differs more than simply technically from individually motivated migration, though at times of war, the act of fleeing from danger or famine often blurs the differences. If a state can preserve the fiction that migrations are the result of innumerable "personal" decisions, then the state may be able to justify its stand that it has not been culpably involved. Jews who had signed over properties in Germany and Austria during Nazism, although coerced to do so, found it nearly impossible to be reimbursed after World War II.

Changing status in international law

The view of international law on population transfer underwent considerable evolution during the 20th century. Prior to World War II, a number of major population transfers were the result of bilateral treaties and had the support of international bodies such as the League of Nations. The expulsion of ethnic Germans from central and eastern Europe after World War II was sanctioned by the Allies in article 13 of the Potsdam communiqué, although research has shown that both the British and the American delegations at Potsdam strongly objected to the size of the population transfer that had already taken place and was accelerating in the summer of 1945. The principal drafter of this provision, Sir Geoffrey Harrison, explained that this article was not intended to approve the expulsions but to find a way to transfer the competence to the Control Council in Berlin so as to regulate the flow.[2]

The tide started to turn when the Charter of the Nuremberg Trials of German Nazi leaders declared forced deportation of civilian populations to be both a war crime and a crime against humanity.[3] This opinion was progressively adopted and extended through the remainder of the century. Underlying the change was the trend to assign rights to individuals, thereby limiting the rights of states to make agreements which adversely affect them.

There is now little debate about the general legal status of involuntary population transfers: "Where population transfers used to be accepted as a means to settle ethnic conflict, today, forced population transfers are considered violations of international law."[4] No legal distinction is made between one-way and two-transfers, since the rights of each individual are regarded as independent of the experience of others.

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. ... The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

An interim report of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1993) says:[6]

Historical cases reflect a now-foregone belief that population transfer may serve as an option for resolving various types of conflict, within a country or between countries. The agreement of recognized States may provide one criterion for the authorization of the final terms of conflict resolution. However, the cardinal principle of "voluntariness" is seldom satisfied, regardless of the objective of the transfer. For the transfer to comply with human rights standards as developed, prospective transferees must have an option to remain in their homes if they prefer.

The same report warned of the difficulty of ensuring true voluntariness:

"some historical transfers did not call for forced or compulsory transfers, but included options for the affected populations. Nonetheless, the conditions attending the relevant treaties created strong moral, psychological and economic pressures to move."

The final report of the Sub-Commission (1997)[7] invoked numerous legal conventions and treaties to support the position that population transfers contravene international law unless they have the consent of both the moved population and the host population; moreover, that consent must be given free of direct or indirect negative pressure.

"Deportation or forcible transfer of population" is defined as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 7).[8] The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has put on trial, and in some cases has convicted, a number of politicians and military commanders indicted for forced deportations in that region.

Ethnic cleansing encompasses: "Deportation or forcible transfer of population", and the force involved may involve other crimes including crimes against humanity. Nationalist agitation can harden public support, one way or the other, in favor of or against population transfer as a solution to current or possible future ethnic conflict, while these attitudes can be cultivated by supporters of either plan of action with its supportive propaganda used as a typical political tool by which their goals can be achieved.

Timothy V. Waters argues in "On the Legal Construction of Ethnic Cleansing" that the expulsions of the ethnic German population east of the Oder-Neisse line the Sudetenland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe without legal redress (cf. the Expulsion of Germans after World War II ) has set a legal precedent that can permit future ethnic cleansing of other populations under international law.[9] His paper has, however, been rebutted by Dr. Jakob Cornides in the study "The Sudeten German Question after EU Enlargement" [10]

Cases of population transfer

Ancient world

In the ancient world, population transfer was the more humane alternative to putting all the males of a conquered territory to death and enslaving the women and children. The deportation of the elite of Jerusalem on three occasions to Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BCE was a population transfer. Since the 13th century BCE, ancient Assyria used mass-deportation as a punishment for rebellions. By the 9th century BCE, the Assyrians regularly deported thousands of restless subjects to other lands. The Hittites often transferred populations of defeated peoples back to Hatti.(Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites)

Inca Empire

The Inca were known to have dispersed conquered ethnic groups throughout their empire. The intent was to break down traditional community ties and force the heterogeneous population to adopt the Quechua language and culture. Never fully successful in the pre-Columbian era, these totalitarian policies had their greatest success when they were adopted, starting in the 16th century, to create a pan-Andean identity defined against Spanish rule. Much of the current knowledge of Inca population transfers comes from their description by the Spanish chroniclers Pedro Cieza de León and Bernabé Cobo.


Removal of populations from along their borders with the Ottomans in Kurdistan and the Caucasus was of strategic importance to the Safavids. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds, along with large groups of Armenians, Assyrians, Azeris, and Turkmens, were forcibly removed from the border regions and resettled in the interior of Persia. This was a means of cutting off contact with other members of the groups across the borders, as well as limiting passage of peoples. The Khurasani Kurds are a community of nearly 1.7 million people deported from western Kurdistan to North Khorasan, (northeastern Iran) by Persia during the 16th to 18th centuries.[11] For a map of these areas see.[12] Some Kurdish tribes were deported farther east, into Gharjistan in the Hindu Kush mountains of present day Afghanistan, about 1500 miles away from their former homes in western Kurdistan (see Displacement of the Kurds).


In the 1880s, Abdur Rahman Khan moved the rebellious Ghilzai Pashtuns from the southern part of the country to the northern part.[13][14]

Expulsion of Jews and Gypsies

Expulsions of Jews and of Romani people reflect the power of state control that has been applied as a tool, in the form of expulsion edicts, laws, mandates, etc., against them for centuries. The most famous such event was the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. Some of the Jews went to North Africa; others east into Poland, France and Italy, and other Mediterranean countries.

Another event, in 1609, was the Expulsion of the Moriscos, the final transfer of 300,000 Muslims out of Spain, after more than a century of Catholic trials, segregation, and religious restrictions. Most of the Spanish Muslims went to North Africa and to areas of Ottoman Empire control.[15]


Two famous transfers connected with the history of France are the expulsion of the Jews, 1308, and of the Huguenots, French Protestants in the seventeenth century, who were declared illegal by the Edict of Fontainebleau, 1685. Religious warfare over the Protestants led to many seeking refuge in the Low Countries and in England. In the early eighteenth century, some Huguenots emigrated to the Thirteen Colonies. In both cases, the population was not forced out but rather their religion was declared illegal; they were expected to convert or leave.

According to Ivan Sertima, Louis XV ordered all blacks to be deported from France, but was unsuccessful. At the time, these were mostly free people of color from the Caribbean and Louisiana colonies, usually descendants of French colonial men and African women. Some fathers sent their mixed-race sons to France to be educated, or gave them property to be settled there. Others entered the military, as did the father of Alexandre Dumas.[16]


After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and Act of Settlement in 1652, the lands of most Irish Catholics were confiscated and they were banned from living in towns. As many as 100,000 Irish men, women and children were forcibly taken to the colonies in the West Indies and North America as indentured servants or slaves.[17]

In addition, the Crown supported a series of population transfers into Ireland, to enlarge the Protestant population of Ireland. These are known as the plantations, and migrants came chiefly from Scotland and the northern border counties of England. In the late eighteenth century, the Scots-Irish constituted the largest group of immigrants from the British Isles to enter the Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolutionary War.[18]


The enclosures that depopulated rural England in the British Agricultural Revolution started during the Middle Ages. Similar developments in Scotland have lately been called the Lowland Clearances.

The Highland Clearances were forced displacements of the populations of the Scottish Highlands and Islands in the 18th century. They led to mass emigration to the coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and abroad including to the Thirteen Colonies, Upper Canada and the Caribbean.


During the French and Indian War (the North American front of the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France), the British forcibly relocated 1,500 Acadians from the Canadian Maritime Provinces—first to the Thirteen Colonies and then to France. Thousands died of drowning, starvation, or illness as a result of the deportation. Some of the Acadians who had been relocated to France subsequently emigrated to Louisiana, where their descendants became known as Cajuns.

United States


During and after the American Revolutionary War, many loyalists were deprived of life, liberty or property, or suffered lesser physical harm, sometimes under acts of attainder and sometimes by main force. Parker Wickham and other loyalists developed a well-founded fear of this. As a result many chose or were forced to leave their former homes in what became the United States of America, often going to Canada, where the Crown promised them land in an effort at compensation and resettlement. Most were given land on the frontier in what became Upper Canada and had to create new towns. The communities were largely settled by people of the same ethnic ancestry and religious faith. In some cases, towns were started by men of particular military units and their families.

Native American relocations

In the nineteenth century, the United States government removed a number of Native Americans to federally owned and designated Indian reservations. Native Americans were removed from the northern tier to western states. The most well-known removals were those of the 1830s from the American Southeast, starting with the Choctaw people. Under the 1830 Indian Removal Act, the US relocated the peoples of the Five Civilized Tribes east of the Mississippi River, to the Indian Territory in the west. The process resulted in great social dislocation for all, numerous deaths, and the "Trail of Tears" for the Cherokee Nation. Resistance to Indian removal led to several violent conflicts, including the Second Seminole War in Florida. Later in the century, the attempt by the US government to restrict Plains Indians to reservations followed numerous Indian Wars as they fought against European-American passage and encroachment on their territories, and competition for resources.

General Order No. 11 (1863)

General Order No. 11 is the title of a Union Army decree issued during the American Civil War on 25 August 1863, forcing the evacuation of rural areas in four counties in western Missouri. This followed extensive insurgency and guerrilla warfare. The Army cleared the area to deprive the guerrillas of local support. The Union General Thomas Ewing issued the order, which affected all rural residents regardless of their loyalty. Those who could prove their loyalty to the Union were permitted to stay in the region, but had to leave their farms and move to communities near military outposts. Those who could not do so had to vacate the area altogether. In the process, Union forces destroyed considerable property, and there were conflicts resulting in deaths.

Japanese American internment

In the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and with suspicions and antagonism to ethnic Japanese running high, starting in 1942, the US government ordered military forcible relocation and internment of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese residing in the United States to newly created "War Relocation Camps," or internment camps, most for the duration of the war. European Americans often bought their property at losses. Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans residing on the West Coast of the United States were all interned. In Hawaii, where more than 150,000 Japanese Americans composed nearly a third of that territory's population, officials interned only 1,200 to 1,800 Japanese Americans. In the late twentieth century, the US government paid some compensation to survivors of the internment camps.

Other forced population transfers

In April 1938, the towns of Dana, Massachusetts, Enfield, Massachusetts, Greenwich, Massachusetts, and Prescott, Massachusetts were depopulated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir.

In March 1943, the towns of Hanford, Washington and White Bluffs, Washington were depopulated to make way for the Hanford Site.

Ottoman Empire

Population transfers in early modern times, 1300–1600

The early Ottoman state used forced population transfers as a tool to reorder the ethnic and economic landscape of its territories. The term used in Ottoman documents is sürgün, from the verb sürmek, to displace.

Ottoman population transfers through the reign of Mehmet I (d. 1421) shuttled tribal Turkmen and Tatar groups from the state's Asiatic territories to the Balkans (Rumeli). Many of these groups were supported as paramilitary forces along the frontier with Christian Europe. Simultaneously, Christian communities were transported from newly conquered lands in the Balkans into Thrace and Anatolia. While these general flows back and forth across the Dardanelles continued, the reigns of Murad II (d. 1451) and Mehmet II (d. 1481) concentrated on the demographic reorganization of the empire's urban centers. Murad II's conquest of Salonika was followed by its state-enforced settlement by Muslims from Yenice Vardar and Anatolia. Mehmet II's transfers focused on the re-population of the city of Istanbul following its conquest in 1453, transporting Christians, Muslims, and Jews into the new capital from across the empire. To this day, the huge Belgrade Forest, to the north of Istanbul and named after re-settled people from Belgrade, is a reminder of those times. But, the Belgrade Gate is on the east side of the city, on the way to Serbia.

Beginning in the reign of Bayezid II (d. 1512), the Ottoman state used to manage the difficulty with the heterodox Qizilbash (kizilbas) movement in eastern Anatolia. Forced relocation of the Qizilbash continued until at least the end of the 16th century. Selim I (d. 1520) ordered merchants, artisans, and scholars transported to Istanbul from Tabriz and Cairo. The state mandated Muslim immigration to Rhodes and Cyprus following their conquests in 1522 and 1571, respectively, and resettled Greek Cypriots on the Anatolia coast.

Knowledge among western historians of the Ottoman usage of sürgün from the 17th through the 19th century is sketchy. It appears that the state did not utilize forced population transfers during this time to the extent that it did during its expansionist period.[19]

Balkan population exchanges, 1913

After the exchanges in the Balkans, the Great Powers and later the League of Nations used forced population transfer as a mechanism for increasing homogeneity in post-Ottoman Balkan states in the hope of decreasing conflict. A Norwegian diplomat, working with the League of Nations as a High Commissioner for Refugees beginning in 1919, proposed the idea of a forced population transfer. This was modeled on the earlier, post Balkan-war, Greek-Bulgarian mandatory population transfer of Greeks in Bulgaria to Greece, and Bulgarians in Greece to Bulgaria.

Armenian population

The event known as the Armenian Genocide is considered by some to have been a population transfer. The Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire was transferred in the years from 1915–1919. It was organised by the Young Turk Ottoman government and officially called tehcir – meaning "forced relocation".

The Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan

Jews and Assyrian Christians forced migrations between 1843 and the 21st century

In his 2007 book, the Israeli scholar Mordechai Zaken discussed the history of the Assyrian Christians of Turkey and Iraq (in the Kurdish vicinity), over a period of 180 years, from 1843 onwards.[20] Zaken identifies three major eruptions that took place between 1843 and 1933, during which the Assyrian Christians lost their land and hegemony in the Hakkārī (or Julamerk) region in southeastern Turkey and became refugees in other lands, notably Iran and Iraq. They also formed exiled communities in European and western countries (including the USA, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, Sweden, and France, to mention some of these countries).

Zaken compared the experience of the Assyrian Christians to that of the Kurdish Jews forced to leave Iraq after a history there of nearly 2,000 years. Most eventually migrated to Israel in the early 1950s. The Jews of Kurdistan were forced to leave and migrate as a result of the Arab-Israeli war. At the end, the Jews of Kurdistan had to leave their Kurdish habitat en masse and migrate into Israel. The Assyrian Christians migrated in stages following each political crisis. Millions of Assyrian Christians live today in exiled and prosperous communities in the west.[21]

Republic of Turkey

Greece and Turkey: population exchanges, 1923

The League of Nations defined those to be mutually expelled as the "Muslim inhabitants of Greece" to Turkey and moving "the Christian Orthodox inhabitants of Turkey" to Greece. The plan met with fierce opposition in both countries and was condemned vigorously by a large number of countries. Undeterred, Fridtjof Nansen worked with both Greece and Turkey to gain their acceptance of the proposed population exchange. About 1.5 million Christians and half a million Muslims were moved from one side of the international border to the other.

By the time the Exchange was to take effect (1 May 1923), most of the pre-war Orthodox Greek population of Aegean Turkey had already fled. The Exchange therefore only involved the Greeks of central Anatolia (both Greek and Turkish speaking), and the Greeks of Pontus, a total of roughly 189,916.[22] The total number of Muslims involved was 354,647.[23]

Population transfer prevented further attacks on minorities in the respective states while Nansen was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace. As a result of the transfers, the Muslim minority in Greece and the Greek minority in Turkey were much reduced. Cyprus and the Dodecanese were not included in the Greco-Turkish population transfer of 1923 because they were under direct British and Italian control respectively.


Between 1924 and 1945, Benito Mussolini's Fascist government forced minorities living in Italy to assume the Italian language and culture, and worked to erase any traces of the existence of other nations on the territory of Italy.

This program of Italianization aimed to suppress the native non-Italian populations living in Italy. The affected populations were Slovenes and Croats in the Julian March, Lastovo and Zadar; between 1941 and 1943 the Gorski Kotar and coastal Dalmatia; German-speakers in South Tyrol, parts of Friuli and the Julian March, Francoprovençal-speaking peoples in the Aosta Valley, as well as Greeks, Turks and Jews on the Dodecanese islands.

In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini agreed to give the German-speaking population of South Tyrol a choice (the South Tyrol Option Agreement): they could emigrate to neighbouring Germany (including annexed Austria) or stay in Italy and accept their complete Italianisation. Because of the outbreak of World War II, this agreement was just partially consummated.

Meanwhile in the Aosta Valley, a forced programme of Italianization included population transfers of Valdostans into Piedmont and Italian-speaking workers into Aosta, fostering movements towards separatism.

Central Europe

Main article: Expulsion of Poles by Nazi Germany

After the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact divided Poland during World War II, Germans deported Poles and Jews from Polish territories annexed by Nazi Germany, while the Soviet Union deported Poles from areas of Eastern Poland, Kresy to Siberia and Kazakhstan. From 1940 on Hitler tried to get Germans to resettle from the areas where they constituted a minority (the Baltics, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe) to the Warthegau – the region around Poznań, German Posen. For this reason he expelled the Poles and Jews who formed there the majority of the population. Before the war the Germans constituted 16% of the population in the area.[24]

The Nazis initially tried to press Jews to emigrate. In Austria they succeeded in driving out most of the Jewish population. But increasing foreign resistance brought this plan to a virtual halt. Later on Jews were transferred to ghettoes and eventually to death camps. Use of forced labor in Nazi Germany during World War II occurred on a large scale. The Germans abducted about 12 million people from almost twenty European countries; about two-thirds of whom came from Eastern Europe.[25]

After World War II, when the Curzon line proposed in 1919 by the Western Allies as Poland's eastern border war implemented, members of all ethnic groups were transferred to their respective new territories (Poles to Poland, Ukrainians to Soviet Ukraine). The same applied to the former German territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, where German citizens were transferred to Germany. Germans were expelled from areas annexed by the Soviet Union and Poland as well as territories of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.[26] From 1944 until 1948, between 13.5 and 16.5 million Germans were expelled, evacuated or fled from Central and Eastern Europe. The Statistisches Bundesamt estimates the loss of life at 2.1 million [27]

Poland and Soviet Ukraine conducted population exchanges—Poles that resided east of the established Poland-Soviet border were deported to Poland (approx. 2,100,000 persons) and Ukrainians that resided west of the established Poland-Soviet Union border were deported to Soviet Ukraine. Population transfer to Soviet Ukraine occurred from September 1944 to May 1946 (approx. 450,000 persons). Some Ukrainians (approx. 200,000 persons) left southeast Poland more or less voluntarily (between 1944 and 1945).[28] The second event occurred in 1947 under Operation Vistula.[29]

Nearly 20 million people in Europe fled their homes, were expelled, transferred or exchanged during the process of sorting out ethnic groups between 1944 and 1951.[30]

Soviet Union

Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union. Over 1.5 million people were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. Separatism, resistance to Soviet rule and collaboration with the invading Germans were cited as the main official reasons for the deportations, although an ambition to ethnically cleanse the regions may have also been a factor. After the WWII, the population of East Prussia was replaced by the Soviet one, mainly by Russians. Many Tartari Muslims were transferred to Northern Crimea (now Ukraine) while Southern Crimea and Yalta were populated with Russians.

One of the conclusions of the Yalta Conference was that the Allies would return all Soviet citizens that found themselves in the Allied zone to the Soviet Union (Operation Keelhaul). This immediately affected the Soviet prisoners of war liberated by the Allies, but was also extended to all Eastern European refugees. Outlining the plan to forcibly return the refugees to the Soviet Union, this codicil was kept secret from the American and British people for over fifty years.[31]

South East Europe

In September 1940 with the return of Southern Dobruja (the Cadrilater) by Romania to Bulgaria under the Treaty of Craiova, 80,000 Romanians were compelled to move north of the border, while 65,000 Bulgarians living in Northern Dobruja were forced to move into Bulgaria.

During the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, the breakup of Yugoslavia caused large population transfers, mostly involuntary. Because it was a conflict fueled by ethnic nationalism, people of minority ethnicity generally fled towards regions where their ethnicity was in a majority.

The phenomenon of "ethnic cleansing" was first seen in Croatia but soon spread to Bosnia. Since the Bosnian Muslims had no immediate refuge, they were arguably hardest hit by the ethnic violence. United Nations tried to create safe areas for Muslim populations of eastern Bosnia but in cases such as the Srebrenica massacre, the peacekeeping troops failed to protect the safe areas resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims.

The Dayton Accords ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, fixing the borders between the two warring parties roughly to the ones established by the autumn of 1995. One immediate result of the population transfer following the peace deal was a sharp decline in ethnic violence in the region.

See FAS analysis of former Yugoslavia for population ethnic distribution maps.

A massive and systematic deportation of Serbia's Albanians took place during the Kosovo War of 1999, with around 800,000 Albanians (out of a population of about 1.5 million) forced to flee Kosovo. This was quickly reversed at the war's end, but 280,000 Serbs (out of a population of about 350,000) were in turn forced to flee into Serbia proper, unlike Albanians, most Serbs never returned.

A number of commanders and politicians, notably Serbia and Yugoslavia's former president Slobodan Milošević, were put on trial by the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for a variety of war crimes, including deportations and genocide.


In the Caucasian region of the former Soviet Union the phenomenon of population transfer along ethnic lines has affected many thousands of individuals in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper; from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia proper; as well as from Chechnya and adjacent areas within Russia.

South Asia

When British India became independent after the Second World War some of its Muslim inhabitants demanded their own state consisting of two non-contiguous territorial entities: East and West Pakistan. In order to facilitate the creation of new states along religious lines (as opposed to racial or linguistic lines as people shared common histories and languages) population exchanges between India and Pakistan were implemented, at the expense of significant human suffering in the process. More than 5 million Hindus and Sikhs were forced to move from present-day Pakistan into present-day India, and the same number of Muslims, moved in the other direction. A large number of people (more than a million by some estimates) died in the accompanying violence. Despite the movement of large number of Muslims to Pakistan, an equal number of Muslims chose to stay back in India. However, most of the Hindu and Sikh population in Pakistan moved into India in the consequent years.

On the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia between 1967 and 1973 the British Government forcibly removed 2000 Chagossian islanders to make way for a military base. Despite court judgments in their favour, they have not been allowed to return from their exile in Mauritius, although there are signs that financial compensation and an official apology are being considered by the British government.


One of the Khmer Rouge's first acts was to move most of the urban population into the countryside. Phnom Penh—the population of which, numbering 2.5 million people, included as many as 1.5 million wartime refugees living with relatives or in urban center—was soon nearly empty. Similar evacuations occurred at Battambang, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, and throughout the country's other towns and cities. The Khmer Rouge attempted to turn Cambodia into a classless society by depopulating cities and forcing the urban population ("New People") into agricultural communes. The entire population was forced to become farmers in labor camps.

Middle East

  • Kurdish refugees of rebellions in Turkey - during the Kurdish rebellions in Turkey from 1920 and until 1937, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were forced to relocate.
  • Kurds relocated during Turkey-PKK conflict - In total up to 3,000,000 people (mainly Kurds) have been displaced in the Kurdish–Turkish conflict,[32] an estimated 1,000,000 of which were still internally displaced as of 2009.[33]
  • Iraqi Arabization program - For decades, Saddam Hussein 'Arabized' northern Iraq.[34] Sunni Arabs have driven out at least 70,000 Kurds from the Mosul’s western half.[35] Nowadays, eastern Mosul is Kurdish and western Mosul is Sunni Arab.[36]
  • Palestinian expulsion from Kuwait was an event in which Kuwait expelled 443,000 Palestinians after the Gulf War, due to their alleged support for Iraq's invasion.
  • Iraqi refugees - approximately 2 million Iraqis fled the country during the Iraq War of 2003-2011. Most of the fugitives fled due to sectarian violence, the biggest group being Assyrian Christians.
  • Unilateral Disengagement Plan - during August 2005, Israel forcibly transferred all Israeli settlers (10,000) from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.[37][38][39][40]
  • Syrian refugees - approximately 3 million Syrian turned displaced and 1.4 million turned refugees in neighboring countries due to the Syrian civil war. Many were displaced due to fighting, with forced ethnic and religion based expulsions taking place against Sunni Arabs and Alawites alike.

Israel/Palestine – 1948–1967

The Palestinian exodus (also known as the Nakbah) of approximately 711,000 to 725,000 from the British mandate of Palestine occurred during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The bulk of the Arab refugees from the former British Mandate of Palestine ended up in the Gaza strip (under Egyptian rule between 1949 and 1967) and the West Bank (under Jordanian rule between 1949 and 1967), Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The cause of this population movement is hotly debated and disputed by each side.[41]

Although the population exchange of the Arabs of Palestine with Jews from across the Arab world took place around the period of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the idea of the transfer of Arabs from Palestine, usually to Iraq (where there was a sizable Iraqi Jewish population), had been considered about half a century beforehand. One of the recommendations in the Report of the British Peel Commission in 1937 was for a transfer of Arabs from the area of the proposed Jewish state, and this even included a compulsory transfer from the plains of Palestine. This recommendation was not initially objected to by the British Government.[42]

Arab countries – 1948–1973

From 1948 until the early 1970s between 800,000 to 1,000,000 Mizrachi and Sephardic Jews either fled from their homes or were expelled from Arab and Islamic countries; 260,000 reached Israel between 1948–1951, and 600,000 by 1972.[43][44][45] A small migration started in the late 19th century, but the vast majority occurred after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Jews of Egypt and Libya were forcibly expelled while those of Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa left as a result of a hostile atmosphere (including pogroms and public executions) and growing political insecurity. Most were forced to abandon their property.[44] By 2002, these Jews and their descendants constituted about 40% of Israel's population.[45]

See also


Further reading

  • A. de Zayas, "International Law and Mass Population Transfers," Harvard International Law Journal 207 (1975).
  • A. de Zayas, "The Right to the Homeland, Ethnic Cleansing and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia," Criminal Law Forum, Vol. 6, 1995, pp. 257–314.
  • A. de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, London 1977.
  • A. de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge, Palgrave/Macmillan, New York, 1994. ISBN 14039730833.
  • A. de Zayas, Die deutschen Vertriebenen, Graz 2006. ISBN 3-902475-15-3.
  • A. de Zayas, Heimatrecht ist Menschenrecht, München 2001. ISBN 3-8004-1416-3.
  • N. Naimark, " Fires of Hatred," Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • St. Prauser and A. Rees, The Expulsion of the "German" Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War, Florence, Italy, European University Institute, 2004.

External links

  • Haslam, Emily. "Population, Expulsion and Transfer", Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
  • UN Report, historical population transfers and exchanges (continues at bottom of page)
  • , UN report on legal status of population transfers
  • , 2003, senior thesis for BA degree, Princeton University
  • "Medieval Jewish expulsions from French territories", Jewish Gates
  • "History in a Nutshell", population transfer statistics in the Middle Eastfr:Expulsion
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