Record number of internally displaced people due to overlapping crises

Photo Courtesy Bangkok Post

An unprecedented “perfect storm” of overlapping crises forced tens of millions to flee within their own countries last year, sending the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) soaring to an all-time high. In 2022, a record 71.1 million IDPs were registered, up 20% from the previous year. This staggering increase was a result of mass displacement due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the monsoon floods that affected Pakistan.

A joint report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) revealed that there were 60.9 million new internal displacements reported in 2022. Some people had to flee multiple times during the year, pushing the number of new displacements to an all-time high, a 60% increase from the 38 million fresh displacements seen in 2021.

Alexandra Bilak, IDMC chief, commented on the extremely high number of internal displacements, attributing it to the conflict in Ukraine, floods in Pakistan, and new conflicts and disasters occurring globally from the Americas to the Pacific.

In 2022, new internal displacements from conflict surged to 28.3 million, nearly double from the previous year and three times higher than the annual average over the past decade. Aside from the 17 million displacements within Ukraine and eight million people displaced by the floods in Pakistan, Sub-Saharan Africa witnessed around 16.5 million displacements, many due to conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

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The global number of IDPs is anticipated to grow even further this year, driven partly by fresh conflicts such as the ongoing violence in Sudan, which has forced hundreds of thousands to flee. The United Nations reports that more than 700,000 individuals have already been internally displaced by the fighting that erupted on April 15, while another 150,000 have fled the country. Alexandra Bilak highlighted the extremely volatile situation on the ground and pointed to the fact that new displacements in Sudan are joining the ranks of over three million people already displaced across the country.

Nearly three-quarters of the world’s IDPs are located in just ten countries: Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan. Many remain displaced due to unresolved conflicts that have endured for years, resulting in continued displacement, reports Bangkok Post.

Natural disasters were also a significant factor, leading to 32.6 million new internal displacements in 2022, an increase of 40% from the previous year. Jan Egeland, NRC chief, described the overlapping crises exacerbating global displacement as a “perfect storm”. He highlighted that conflicts and disasters in 2022 worsened pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, thereby leading to displacement on a scale never seen before.

He added that the war in Ukraine has also fuelled a global food security crisis that has severely impacted the internally displaced. The “perfect storm” has significantly undermined the progress made in reducing global hunger and malnutrition in recent years.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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