An unjustified dichotomy in the social science literature dealing with displaced populations separates the study of refugees from the study of populations uprooted by development projects. The paper argues that this dichotomy must be overcome by exploring the similarities and differences between these categories of displaced populations. Both bodies of literature, which currently do not ‘speak to each other’, stand to gain conceptually from overcoming their relative isolation. New trends are signalled regarding the international aid and assistance channelled during the 1980s to refugee and displaced populations. The paper discusses the worldwide growth of development-related population displacements, while in many countries domestic policies and legal frameworks to guide forced dislocation and resettlement are lacking. The differences between relief and development oriented strategies for resettling displaced people are examined with emphasis on the importance of allocating adequate resources for the sustainable socio-economic re-establishment of people displaced by development.