33.3 million people displaced by war around the world: IDMC

Ahram Online , Wednesday 14 May 2014

Report on internal displacement worldwide shows that nearly 10,000 people fled their homes per day in Syria in 2013

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) published a report this month that showed a "staggering increase" in global displacement worldwide caused by conflicts and violence.

IDMC estimated that 33.3 million people were internally displaced across the world by the end of 2013 – forced to flee their homes because of armed conflicts, generalised violence or human rights violations.

The number signifies a 16 percent increase since 2012, which saw 28.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) – defined by the report as persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence.

 IDMC mentioned that there were 19.3 million IDPs in 1998, a number that jumped to 25 million in 2001.  

The IDMC – part of the Norwegian Refugee Council, an independent non-governmental humanitarian organisation – has been recognised during annual UN General Assembly resolutions and has received financial support from many international agencies and foreign governments.

The centre's report – titled Global Overview 2014: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence covers displacement that took place in 2013 along five regions and in 60 conflict-affected states and territories.  

The internal displacement – meaning that people do not cross an internationally recognised state border – was caused by factors such as armed conflicts, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural/human-made disasters.

In terms of region, sub-Saharan Africa had the largest number of IDPs in 2013 with 12.5 million, followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 9.1 million.

Also, 63 percent of all IDPs globally came from just five countries affected by conflict: Syria (3.5 million), Colombia (157,000), Nigeria (470,500), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (1 million) and Sudan (470,000).

The centre reported that much of the rise in IDP numbers is associated with the "ongoing crises in Syria and the Central Africa Republic (CAR)." Accordingly, Central Africa was the sub-region most affected, with the largest population movements taking place in CAR, DRC, South Sudan and Sudan", the rights body said.

For Syria, the war-torn state accounted for 43 percent of new displacements worldwide. "An unprecedented average of 9,500 people a day fled their homes as the country entered its third year of conflict", IDMC emphasised.

Although the report praised the "better availability" of information and improved data collection in some countries, it condemned the "lack of precise and disaggregated data", a problem in a number of countries, particularly those where displacement is a sensitive or contentious issue.

IDMC argued that figures often only reflect persons who are registered by a government as IDPs or are living in camps. "[The numbers] rarely account for returns, repeated displacements, unregistered IDPs or those who have left campus but have not achieved a durable solution," the report stated.

Surprisingly, the report revealed that the best available data often comes from "outdated sources" whose information is barely reliable in terms of indicating the extent to which people may have achieved "durable solutions."

This was the case in countries such as Bangladesh, Burundi, India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Senegal and Thailand.

IDMC called for "fundamental changes" in efforts to prevent and respond to internal displacement, and said these efforts are needed now more than ever before.

"The fact that displacement often has multiple and overlapping causes calls for wide-ranging responses that promote peace building, governance, stability and reconciliation. Such comprehensive interventions require the coordinated engagement of a wide variety of organisations and institutions," the report said. 

An infograph included in IDMC's Global Overview 2014 that shows the worldwide, geographical distribution of IDPs in numbers, May 2014 (Photo: IDMC)

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