There are almost '76 million internally displaced people' worldwide and the number is likely to increase

At least 26.4 million people, including 1.2 million from Pakistan, flee their homes due to disasters, internally displaced persons monitor says

A displaced girl carries a water bottle she filled from nearby floodwaters, as her family takes shelter in a camp in Sehwan, Pakistan, September 30, 2022. – Reuters
  • 1.2 million internally displaced people registered in Pakistan due to disasters, according to a report.
  • The number of internally displaced people increased more than 50% in the last five years.
  • Pakistan accounted for about half of the total displacements in South Asia.

Conflicts and disasters around the world have caused nearly 76 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) to flee their homes in search of refuge by the end of 2023.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, in its annual Global Report on Internal Displacement, recorded a total of 75.9 million internally displaced people at the end of last year, increasing the number after the conflicts in Sudan and Gaza, and numerous disasters that unfolded around the world.

According to the NGO monitor, the number of these people increased by more than 50% in the last five years and the colossal figure was a new year-end high according to the count. The figure increased compared to the 71.1 million registered at the end of 2022.

The IDMC, in its report, revealed that 68.3 million people worldwide were displaced by conflict and violence, and 7.7 million by disasters.

The report mentions that around 3.7 million internal displacements were recorded in South Asia in 2023. “Disasters caused 3.6 million, the lowest number since 2018.”

From 2014 to 2023 in Pakistan, at least 1,216,000 (1.2 million) people became internally displaced due to disasters, while 23,000 were displaced due to conflicts.

Screenshot of IDPs from 2014 to 2023 in South Asia. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Center

“Pakistan recorded the second highest number of internally displaced people in the region, with around 1.2 million people displaced by disasters,” the report states, highlighting that the majority of people were “forced to flee their homes during the floods of 2022”.

Meanwhile, data related to internal displacement (movements) indicated that at least 732,000 internal displacements occurred due to disasters, while 2,800 were attributed to conflicts between 2014 and 2023.

Screenshot of internal displacement from 2014 to 2023 in South Asia. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Center

“Pakistan accounted for around half of the total with 647,000 displacements, most of which took place in July and particularly in the eastern province of Punjab. Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh were also affected,” the report said, adding that the same provinces were “most affected” by the devastating 2022 monsoon floods, with some of the displaced communities forced to flee again in 2023.

Screenshot of IDPs displaced due to disasters around the world. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Center

9.1 million internally displaced in Sudan

Over the past five years, the number of internally displaced people as a result of conflict has increased by 22.6 million, with the two largest increases in 2022 and 2023.

At 9.1 million, Sudan has the largest number of internally displaced persons recorded in a single country since records began in 2008, the monitor said. Almost half of all internally displaced people live in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Over the past two years, we have seen alarming new levels of people having to flee their homes due to conflict and violence, even in regions where the trend had been improving,” said IDMC director Alexandra Bilak.

“The conflict and the devastation it leaves behind prevent millions of people from rebuilding their lives, often for years.”

'Condemning verdict'

The monitor also tracks the number of internal displacements – each new forced movement of a person within its borders. People may be displaced multiple times.

Last year there were 46.9 million forced movements of people: 20.5 million internal displacement due to conflict and violence, and 26.4 million due to disasters.

Fighting in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Palestinian territories accounted for almost two-thirds of new people movements due to conflict in 2023.

In the Gaza Strip, there were 1.7 million internally displaced Palestinians by the end of 2023, with 3.4 million new movements. The bloodiest war ever experienced in Gaza broke out in October last year.

Throughout 2023, there were six million forced movements of people caused by violence in Sudan, more than in the previous 14 years combined.

It is the second highest number of forced movements in a year after Ukraine's 16.9 million in 2022.

Of the 26.4 million forced movements due to disasters, a third occurred in China and Turkey as a result of severe weather events and high-magnitude earthquakes.

The IDMC was created by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998.

“Never before have we recorded so many people forced to leave their homes and communities. It is a damning verdict on the failures of conflict prevention and peacemaking,” said NRC head Jan Egeland.

“The lack of protection and assistance suffered by millions of people cannot be allowed to continue.”

— Additional contribution from the AFP

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