Conflicts and natural disasters forced tens of millions to flee within their own country last year, pushing the number of internally displaced people to a record high, monitors said yesterday.
About 59.1 million people were registered as internally displaced worldwide last year — an all-time record expected to be broken again this year amid mass displacement in war-torn Ukraine.
About 38 million new internal displacements were reported last year, with some people forced to flee multiple times during the year, a joint report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said.
That marks the second-highest annual number of new internal displacements in a decade after 2020, which saw record-breaking movement due to a string of natural disasters.
Last year, new internal displacements from conflict surged to 14.4 million — marking a 50 percent jump from 2020 and more than doubling since 2012, the report showed.
Global internal displacement figures are only expected to grow this year, driven in particular by the war in Ukraine. More than 8 million people have already been displaced within the war-ravaged country since Russia’s full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24, in addition to the more than 6 million who have fled Ukraine as refugees.
“The world is falling apart,” NRC secretary-general Jan Egeland told reporters. “The situation today is phenomenally worse than even our record figure suggests.”
Last year, sub-Saharan Africa counted the most internal movements, with more than 5 million displacements reported in Ethiopia alone as the country grappled with the raging and expanding Tigray conflict and a devastating drought.
That marks the highest figure ever registered for a single country.
Unprecedented displacement numbers were also recorded last year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s return to power, along with drought, saw many flee their homes.
In Myanmar, where the military junta seized power in a February coup last year, displacement numbers also reached a record high, the report found.
Syria, where civil war has been raging for more than 11 years, still accounted for the world’s highest number of people living in internal displacement due to conflict — 6.7 million — at the end of last year.
Despite the hike in conflict-related displacement, natural disasters continued to account for most new internal displacement, spurring 23.7 million such movements last year.
A full 94 percent of those were attributed to weather and climate-related disasters, such as cyclones, monsoon rains, floods and droughts.
China, the Philippines and India were hardest hit, together accounting for about 70 percent of all disaster-related displacements last year.
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