Today’s map comes from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, which tracks internal displacement around the world. People become “internally displaced” when they are forced to flee their homes because of violence or natural disaster, but do not cross an international border. (If they flee across a border, they can be considered refugees and can be afforded certain protections under international law that IDPs typically do not receive.)
And so far in 2017, some 9 million people have become newly displaced.
About half of the people newly displaced this year are fleeing conflict. And though the year is half over, the 4.6 million people displaced by conflict is about two-thirds of last year’s total.
According to the report, the countries with the highest new internal displacement by conflict are: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): 997,000; Iraq: 922,000; Syria: 692,000; the Philippines: 466,000; Ethiopia: 213,000; Central African Republic (CAR): 206,000; South Sudan: 163,000; the Gambia: 162,000; Afghanistan: 159,000; Nigeria: 142,000; Yemen: 112,000; and Somalia: 70,000.
In the DRC, many of the newly displaced come from the Kasai region, which was not a location that experienced much violence until this year when a localized dispute began spiraling out of control. This region now has the potential to become Africa’s next big conflict and many more people are likely to be displaced. In Iraq, much of the newly displaced are from Mosul and were forced to flee when Iraq forces began their liberation of the city from ISIS.
Natural disasters are another driver of displacement, accounting for nearly half of all displacements worldwide. Again, just a few disasters that struck key population centers are responsible for most of the displacements
From the report:
The two largest events of displacement by flooding in China and by Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh, Myanmar and India are stark reminders of the fact that the concentration of populations in flood plains and on hazard prone coastlines combined with high levels of vulnerability repeatedly trigger large-scale new displacements – and will continue to do so in the face of climate change.
Large-scale new displacements in the Philippines, Peru and Sri Lanka also took place in the context of seasonal flooding. “This shows us that seasonal, to be expected, weather patterns still result in large numbers of new displacements year after year, clearly illustrating that we are not investing enough in reducing vulnerability and exposure. While preparedness, early warning and evacuation systems may have improved over the years, the overall risk of being forced out of your home and becoming displaced in these countries has not been reduced.” says Bina Desai, Head of Policy and Research at IDMC.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Alexanda Bilak, who directs the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, for a Global Dispatches podcast episode. She explained that one of the key challenges facing IDPs around the world is their precarious legal status. Unlike refugees, she said, countries are under no special obligation to care for people displaced within their borders. The United Nations and other groups are trying to change this and help poorer countries that are vulnerable to disasters — manmade or otherwise — devise policies that help reduce the humanitarian fallout from these events. Progress is being made, but far too slowly.
If you have 20 minutes and want to learn more about internal displacement around the world, have a listen.