The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide hit a record high in 2022, driven by increased conflict and climate crisis-induced disasters, a recent study found.
The report, published on Thursday by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), said the number of IDPs worldwide was estimated to be at 71.1 million in 2022.
This represents a 20 per cent increase since 2021, and is the highest so far, with an unprecedented number of people fleeing in search of safety and shelter due to conflicts and climate calamities.
IDPs are people who have been forced to flee their homes for reasons out of their control, but who have not crossed an international border.
Since they have not obtained the legal status of refugees, they often go unaccounted for and are not entitled to the same protection and assistance as refugees under international law.
The report said nearly three quarters of the world’s internally displaced people live in 10 countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ukraine and Sudan.
The war in Ukraine alone triggered nearly 17 million displacements last year, the study noted.
The majority of displaced people, 32.6 million, were due to natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides.
The second leading cause of internal displacement was found to be conflict, according to the IDMC.
The research stated that “conflict and violence triggered 28.3 million internal displacements worldwide, a figure three times higher than the annual average over the past decade”.
“Conflict and disasters combined last year to aggravate people’s pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, triggering displacement on a scale never seen before,” said Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
“This perfect storm has undermined years of progress made in reducing global hunger and malnutrition.”
The report highlighted the fact that the global food security crisis that rose from the war in Ukraine hit IDPs the hardest.
Additional reporting by agencies