Nearly 60 million displaced people within their own country in 2021. This is the frightening assessment drawn up by several NGOs and published on Thursday.

Conflicts and natural disasters are the two main causes put forward.

Over the past ten years, 2020 and 2021 respectively occupy the first two places in terms of record number of trips.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), almost half of these people were under the age of 18.

From year to year, this figure – which therefore does not take into account refugees abroad – continues to grow.

A new record is expected to be set in 2022 due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

More than eight million people were thus displaced inside Ukraine, more than two months after the invasion of the country by Russia, according to the UN.

Find our file on Ukraine

NRC General Secretary Jan Egeland is an alarmist.

He asserts that the situation in the world “has never been so bad” and assures that “the world is collapsing”.

“The situation today is actually incredibly much worse than our record number suggests.

We need world leaders to make a titanic shift in their way of thinking about avoiding and settling conflict, to end this skyrocketing human suffering,” he said.

Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Burma suffer from climate and conflict

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region that recorded the highest number of internal displacements in 2021. Ethiopia, plagued by severe drought and the conflict that broke out in 2020 in the Tigray region, alone has more than five million displaced.

The highest figure ever recorded in a single country.

Afghanistan also recorded a record due to the return to power of the Taliban combined with drought.

In Burma, the military who took power following a coup in February 2021 forced many people to flee their homes.

The Middle East and North Africa, on the other hand, recorded the lowest levels of new displacement in ten years, with the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Iraq having seen some de-escalation, but the total number of people displaced in the region remains high.

Regarding internal displacement due to conflict, Syria still had the highest number, at 6.7 million at the end of 2021. Next come the DRC (5.3 million) and Colombia (5.2 million), as well as Afghanistan and Yemen (4.3 million each).

94% of displacement caused by natural disasters

Although people displaced by conflict are still increasing in number, natural disasters remain the main reason why people are forced to flee their homes.

No less than 94% of these displacements were attributed to meteorological and climatic disasters, such as cyclones, floods and droughts, phenomena that are increasingly frequent and intense due to climate change.

70% of internal displacement linked to natural disasters in 2021 was recorded in China, the Philippines and India.

But, more and more, conflicts and natural disasters go hand in hand, noted Jan Egeland.

In places like Mozambique, Burma, Somalia and South Sudan, the crises are overlapping, impacting food security and increasing the vulnerability of millions of people.


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