Women arrive at a camp for internally displaced people in Somalia
OXFORD, 6 May 2015
(IRIN) – Those trying to escape conflict and violence often only make headlines
when they cross an international border and become refugees, but the majority
of people forced to flee their homes seek refuge within the borders of their own
country. They are “internally displaced persons,” or IDPs. By the end of 2014
there were 38 million of them, more than twice the number of refugees.
Today, the Internal
Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) released its annual overview of global
trends. Here are the key figures and issues from its 99-page report:
• The principal message is that internal displacement is at an
all-time high. Eleven million people were newly displaced in 2014, causing a 15
percent increase in the total number of IDPs compared to 2013. “Never in the
last 10 years of IDMC’s global reporting, have we reported such a high estimate
for the number of people newly displaced in a year,” the study said.
• The majority of new displacement (60 percent) occurred in
five countries. Iraq topped the list with at least 2.2 million people
fleeing areas that fell under the control of Islamic State. Heavy fighting
displaced 1.3 million in South Sudan, while the conflict in Syria displaced a further 1.1 million, on top of 6.5
million already displaced. Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), mainly in the east, pushed one million people from their
homes, and Boko Haram’s expansion in northeastern Nigeria displaced
just under one million more.
• Unsurprisingly, the Middle East and North Africa region had
the largest number of new IDPs. Its nearly 12 million now account for 31
percent of the global total. Syria has more than any other country in the
world, while displacement in Iraq, Libya and Yemen is also on the rise.
Syria is now home the largest
number of IDPs in the world
• Central Africa is home to nearly eight million IDPs and also
saw high levels of new displacement in 2014, mostly in Burundi, the Central
African Republic, Chad, the DRC, South Sudan and Sudan.
• A protracted conflict in Colombia has produced the majority of
Latin America’s seven million IDPs, but new displacement took place in El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico due to people fleeing violence
associated with the drug trade and gangs.
• The only region to show a small decline was Southeast Asia,
thanks to fewer violent incidents in Myanmar and the Philippines, the countries
with the largest concentrations of IDPs.
• Much of the new displacement is being driven by the emergence
of non-state armed groups such as Islamic State in the Middle East, Boko Haram
in West Africa, separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and criminal groups in
Latin America. “Today’s armed conflicts put civilians in harm’s way as never
before,” the report said.
• The cumulative number of IDPs keeps rising every year because
so many people remain unable to return home, integrate in host communities or
settle elsewhere, even after years of displacement. The longer they are
displaced, the less help and attention they receive from donors, the media and
the aid community and the more likely they are to have to flee multiple times.
• Women and children tend to flee first and be displaced for
longer than men, who often stay behind to fight or protect the family home.
Women and girls are also particularly vulnerable to the hardships stemming from
• The report probably understates the true scale of
displacement because of difficulties and differences in the way data on IDPs is
collected from country to country. Those living in camps and who can be more
easily counted represent only a fraction of the displaced population. Most head
for urban areas where they become largely invisible.