Record Numbers Internally Displaced by Conflict in 2014


Record Numbers Internally Displaced by Conflict in 2014

08 May 2015

The number of people internally displaced by conflict reached a record 38 million in 2014, says the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics looks at the main findings.

Following a year that has witnessed a series of global conflicts dominated by transnational groups such as ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), part of the Norwegian Refugee Council released its annual Global Overview on internally displaced people (IDPs) on 6 May 2015.

11 million people newly displaced worldwide in 2014.

By the end of 2014, a record 38 million people around the world had been forced from their homes by armed conflict and violence and therefore recorded as internally displaced people within their own country, the third year in a row that figures have reached record numbers. The figures also show that 11 million people were newly displaced in 2014, which the report suggests is the equivalent of 30,000 people forced from their homes every day.

Launching the findings, Jan Egeland, the secretary general at the Norwegian Refugee Council said, "These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation."

The figures show that there has been a 15 per cent increase in internally displaced people since 2013 and almost twice as many IDPs as there are refugees worldwide.

With widely reported conflicts in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa continuing, it is not surprising that the report notes that the majority of the increases in IDPs since 2013 is the direct result of protracted conflicts in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. These five countries accounted for 60 per cent of new displacement worldwide.

Ten countries accounted for 77 per cent of displacement in 2014.

The ten countries with the highest numbers of IDPs accounted for 77 per cent of total displacement in 2014, with these countries being Turkey (953,700), Nigeria (1,075,300), Somalia (1,106,800), South Sudan (1,498,200), Pakistan (1,900,000), Democratic Republic of Congo (2,756,600), Sudan (3,100,000), Iraq (3,376,000), Colombia (6,044,200), and Syria (7,600,000).

The scale of the most recent displacements around the world and the figures within the report appeared to even surprise the authors of the report, which it suggests should be a wake up call to global diplomats, UN resolutions, and those involved in peace talks that the battle is being lost with armed groups who are driven by political or religious interests.

The report notes that with the world's population set to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, and with rising inequality, lack of democratic representation, and competition for territory and resources, religious, ethnic, and tribal minorities are vulnerable to attacks and displacement.

The figures from the report are in line with previous briefings that have been produced by the IDMC in areas that this year have seen religious conflict, such as in Yemen and Nigeria.

In terms of regions, the report finds that 90 per cent of all IDPs in the Middle East and North Africa are living in Syria and Iraq.

Over 2 million people displaced in Iraq by ISIS fighting in 2014.

Other recent reports suggesting that the people of Iraq, particularly religious minorities in the country, such as Christians, Shia Muslims, Druze, Yazidis, Kurds, and Turkomen, have been forced from their homes during the advance of ISIS in the region from June 2014. This report notes that Iraq has suffered the most new displacement, with at least 2.2 million people fleeing from ISIS fighting.

Syria is also a country to note in the report, following the civil war and the advance of ISIS, with figures showing that 1.1 million people were forced from their homes in 2014, and 7.6 million in total, at least 35 per cent of Syria's total population. This makes it the country with the largest number of IDPs in the world.

In East Africa, the reports highlights that violence associated with political and religious extremists is not new, but displacement caused by it, or from the threat from it, appears to be increasing. Countries such as Kenya and Somalia have seen increasing attacks in 2014 by the Islamist group al-Shabaab, with over 300,000 internally displaced in Kenya and over 1.1 million in Somalia.

Three quarters of internal displacement in Nigeria a direct result of Boko Haram insurgency.

In West Africa there is a similar picture in terms of internal displacement, particularly when looking Nigeria, which has seen the conflict between Boko Haram and the military intensifying. The report finds that religious tensions in the north and the Middle Belt have left over 975,000 people internally displaced in 2014, with three quarters of this displacement a direct result of the campaign by Boko Haram.

In South Asia, the global overview finds that the majority of IDPs in Bangladesh and India belong to ethnic or religious minorities, with at least 430,000 people internally displaced in Bangladesh and at least 850,000 in India.

Looking at South East Asia, the report finds that up to the end of December 2014, 95 per cent of the region's IDPs are concentrated in three countries, Myanmar (645,000), Indonesia (at least 84,000), and the Philippines (77,000). The Philippines however accounted for the majority of new displacements in 2014 alone, with around 124,000 fleeing their homes due to conflict in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The IDMC and the United Nations have also found that since the failed anti-terrorism raid in Mamasapano on Mindanao Island in January 2015, which led to renewed conflict between the Islamist group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and government forces, and put on hold the peace agreement, over 120,000 people have been internally displaced in that region alone. For many countries in the region displacement is multi-causal, with natural hazards, conflict, and development projects combining to increase people's vulnerability.

In Myanmar, over 6,000 people were newly displaced. The authors highlight the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom are living in refugee camps in Rakhine State following inter-communal violence in the area involving Buddhists nationalists in 2012.

The global overview concludes that long-lasting or protracted displacement contributes to an alarmingly high global totals on internally displaced people in 2014. They argue that but those with influence must challenge and change the approach to deal with displacement on this massive scale in order to protect all communities, and to tackle those who are driven by political or religious interests.

The 'Global Overview 2015: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence' can be read in full here.


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Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre