internally displaced people
There are 33.3 million internally displaced people worldwide as of 2013 according to The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) in a report released mid-May.

The Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence, the IDMC’s flagship annual report, was launched at an event co-organized by the IDMC, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The IDMC has been monitoring internal displacement figures since the late 90’s. The current numbers show 8.1 million newly displaced people in 2013, up 1.8 million from 2012.

Displacement occurs heavily in areas experiencing extreme conflict and violence, leaving the most unstable countries with the highest population of displaced people. Figures from the IDMC show the rankings of these areas as follows:

Countries with the largest displacement related to conflict and violence

  1. Syria (6.5 million)
  2. Columbia (5.7 million)
  3. Nigeria (3.3 million)
  4. DRC (2.9 million)
  5. Sudan (2.4 million)
  6. Iraq (2.1 million)
  7. Somalia (1.1 million)

As seen, 63 percent of the total displacement numbers come from Syria, Columbia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan. Syria passed Columbia as having the most internally displaced people (IDPs) last year and accounts for almost half of new displacements in 2013.

However, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region containing the highest number of internally displaced people since 2003. “These numbers show why it’s so vitally important that the international response to Syria should not be at the expense of displaced people in Africa or elsewhere,” says Antonio Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Currently, 12.5 million people are internally displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a 55 percent increase in new displacements in the region from the previous year. The most problematic areas are the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Aside from being forced to migrate from their homes, IDPs suffer various health issues associated with the move as well. Displacement camps are often militarized and lack inadequate shelter. Proper health treatment is often inaccessible while living conditions are unsanitary.

Continuing conflict also makes it difficult for governments and humanitarians in the field to deliver aid. Conditions are so bad that the average displacement time for affected people is now 17 years, according to Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

“We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering,” urges Guterres, “Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative.”

A promising sign for positive change comes with the African Union’s Kampala Convention, the world’s first international treaty that legally binds states to assisting and protecting their IDPs. Five additional countries signed on this year alone.

The fact that internal displacement is an upward trend reveals an inherent flaw in the way the issue is being addressed. Comprehensive reform on the local, national and international approach is now being discussed as efforts increase to resolve the IDP crisis.

– Edward Heinrich

Sources: Internal-Displacement,Algazeera,The Chicago Citizen
Photo: FT Photo Diary