In recent years, forcibly displaced populations have attracted enormous media attention as an increasing number of disasters and political conflicts push more and more people to move away from their homes and seek refuge and opportunities in other places. At the same time, political nervousness about the financial and institutional capability of ‘receiving’ locations to adequately respond to the needs of these large-scale population movements contributes to the shrinking space for thinking about the rights and needs of people on the move. It is precisely because of these global trends that the plight of forcibly displaced populations is becoming more precarious and vulnerable, yet standard social protection provision rarely attends to the plight of these people. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate the remit and implications for including a consideration of forcibly displaced populations (including internally displaced people, refugees and asylum seekers) within social protection policy and programming. Drawing on a limited number of recent initiatives, we suggest some ways in which social protection can be ‘opened’ for these groups.