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A World Increasingly Homeless: Report Finds Upsurge in Internally Displaced Persons

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

John Burger - published on 05/06/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Looked at one way, 30,000 people a day flee their homes

The year 2014, a year marked by the advances of the Islamic State group, massive trans-Mediterranean migration, and war in Ukraine, saw an 11 percent increase in the number of people displaced within their own countries.

A record-setting 38 million people were internally displaced worldwide in 2014, according to a report released Wednesday by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

The figures represent some 30,000 people people fleeing each day.

"Never in the last 10 years of IDMC’s global reporting, from the peak of the Darfur crisis in 2004 and the sectarian violence in Iraq in the mid to late 2000s to the uprisings of the ‘Arab spring’ in 2011 and the ensuing crises in the Middle East have we reported such a high estimate for the number of people newly displaced in a year,” said the report. “Today there are almost twice as many IDPs as there are refugees worldwide.”

It said the majority of the increase since the previous year is the result of protracted crises in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

Iraq suffered the most new displacement, with at least 2.2 million people feeling areas taken over by ISIS, the report said.

Tens of thousands of Christians who fled Mosul and the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq are still taking refuges in Erbil and its environs.

Another country where a great amount of displacement took place was South Sudan, where 1.3 million people were forced out of their homes.

Close behind was Syria, where the four-year-old civil war forced 1.1 million people from their homes in 2014, bringing the total to 7.5 million, or 35 percent of the country’s population. This makes it the country with the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a million people were displaced in 2014 due to “low intensity conflict and violence in the east of the country,” the report said.

In Ukraine, which has been fighting an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists and lost Crimea to Russian annexation, internal displacement of persons took place for the first time, the group said. The number of displaced in the Eastern European nation was at least 646,500, it said.

In the Western hemisphere, the report said, protracted conflict and violence in Colombia and drug-trafficking-fueled violence in Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador lead to new displacement.

The report examined the implications for humanitarian assistance to people forced out of their homes:

As displaced populations become ever more dispersed in areas where it is harder for humanitarians to reach them—whether because of government restrictions, security concerns or the fact that IDPs are all but invisible in urban areas—the task of assisting them increasingly falls to their host communities. The current humanitarian system, however, is not well set up to offer them the support they need. Such an arrangement may be manageable in the short term, but over time IDPs may “outstay their welcome,” putting additional pressure on already scarce resources and creating tensions between them and their hosts, which in turn have the potential to fuel further conflict and displacement. 

The report also noted that there are people living in displacement for 10 years or more in nearly 90 percent of the 60 countries and territories monitored by the group. 

Reacting to the report, ​Nikki Gamer, Communications Officer for Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia for Catholic Relief Services, said, "Whatever the specific numbers, at CRS we know from our work on the ground that the volume of refugees flooding into neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon is alarming. With the Syrian war now into its fifth year, a milestone signifying accelerating  trauma, loss, violence and anxiety, conditions in the region are deteriorating.

Gamer said that along with local partners in the region, CRS has provided emergency assistance to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees—primarily in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

"And in Iraq, we’re providing essential living supplies and improving makeshift shelters—along with education and care for children—to help families live with dignity during this time of stress and catastrophe for so many," she said.

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