May 22, 2024

71 million people internally displaced worldwide

Andrew Gibbens in Switzerland

The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide stood at 71.1 million at the end of 2022, a 20 percent increase from the previous year, according to the main annual report of the IDP Monitoring Center.

The number of movements seeking safety and protection, sometimes more, was also unprecedented in 2022. 60.9 million was 60 percent more than last year. The conflict in Ukraine displaced nearly 17 million people as people repeatedly fled rapidly shifting front lines, and Pakistan’s monsoon floods killed 8.2 million people, the fourth deadliest global disaster of the year.

Internal displacement is a global phenomenon, but almost three quarters of the world’s refugees live in just 10 countries – Syria, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. many stem from unresolved conflicts that continued to cause significant displacement in 2022.

“Today’s displacement crises are growing in scale, complexity and scope, and factors like food insecurity, climate change and escalating and protracted conflicts are adding new layers to this phenomenon,” said IDMC’s director, Alexandra Bilak. “Greater resources and further research are essential to help understand and better respond to IDPs’ needs”.

Conflict and violence have caused 28.3 million people to be internally displaced worldwide, three times the annual average of the past decade. Apart from Ukraine, nine million, or 32 percent of the world’s total, were in sub-Saharan Africa. The proportion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was approximately four million, and in Ethiopia a little more than two million. The number of catastrophic transmissions increased almost 40 percent from a year ago to 32.6 million, mainly due to the effects of La Niña, which continued for the third year in a row. South Asia achieved the highest regional figure, surpassing East Asia and the Pacific for the first time in a decade. The Horn of Africa’s worst drought in 40 years has displaced 2.1 million, including 1.1 million in Somalia alone, while increasing acute food insecurity across the region.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, described the overlapping crises around the world as a “perfect storm”.

“Conflict and disasters combined last year to aggravate people’s pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, triggering displacement on a scale never seen before,” he said. “The war in Ukraine also fuelled a global food security crisis that hit the internally displaced hardest. This perfect storm has undermined years of progress made in reducing global hunger and malnutrition.”

Better data and analysis are still needed to improve understanding of the link between food insecurity and displacement, but the IDMC report shows that the former is often a consequence of the latter and can have lasting effects on both refugees and host communities. Three quarters of countries facing emergency levels of food security are also home to internally displaced people.

Illuminating this connection is key to understanding how disruptions in food systems affect refugees in their home countries, as well as how future investments in food security are critical to finding solutions.

“There is an increasing need for durable solutions to meet the scale of the challenges facing displaced people,” Bilak said. “This spans the expansion of cash assistance and livelihood programmes that improve IDPs’ economic security, through to investments in risk reduction measures that strengthen their communities’ resilience.”