Over 31 million people internally displaced in 2016, says report

The Global Report on Internal Displacement said of the 6.9 million new internal displacements caused by conflicts in 2016, 2.6 million took place in Sub-Saharan Africa. / AFP PHOTO / John WESSELS

Nigeria has 501,000

A new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has revealed that conflicts, violence and disasters caused 31.1 million new internal displacements in 2016.

Also, the Secretary General of the NRC, Jan Egeland said one person was forced to flee the home every second in their own countries in 2016, adding that “internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one. It is urgent to put internal displacement back on the global agenda.”

The Global Report on Internal Displacement said of the 6.9 million new internal displacements caused by conflicts in 2016, 2.6 million took place in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was the country worst affected, with a spike of 922,000 new displacements.Next were Syria (824,000), Iraq (659,000), Afghanistan (653,000), Nigeria (501,000) and Yemen (478,000). At the end of 2016, a total of 40.3 million people were displaced in their own country due to conflicts and violence, some of whom have been displaced for decades.

“Certain countries drop off the international agenda only to re-emerge a few years later with significant numbers of new displacements,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director of IDMC.

“This was the case of the DRC, which highlights how the failure to address the underlying causes of conflict and crisis results in cyclical patterns of displacements.”

Disasters displaced three times more people than conflicts. Most of the 24 million new disaster displacements recorded in 2016 were linked to sudden-onset weather hazards such as floods, storms, wildfires and severe winter conditions.

Displacements caused by disasters occur mostly in low and lower-middle income countries and is expected to increase in the future with severe impacts on climate change and more extreme weather.

“Despite internal displacement being the starting point of many onward journeys, it has been overshadowed by the current global focus on refugees and migrants. We need to acknowledge that, without the right kind of support and protection, a person internally displaced today may become a refugee, an asylum seeker or an international migrant tomorrow,” Bilak said.



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