In Africa, more and more internally displaced due to conflict and climate

By the end of 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has counted more than 108 million people forced to flee their homes worldwide. This is almost 20 million more than in 2021, but it is above all the largest increase ever recorded. In sub-Saharan Africa, the numbers are again at record levels. With 7 million people, the number of refugees on the continent increased very little in 2022, but the number of internally displaced by conflict or climate has risen by 17%.

People crossing Sudan at a refugee camp in Renk County, South Sudan, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. Sudan has descended into chaos since fighting broke out in mid-April between the country's two rival generals and there is growing concern for those trapped and displaced by the fighting. AP - Peter Louis

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In Sudan alone, the war that broke out two months ago has led to the forced displacement of more than 1.7 million people inside the country, according to UNHCR. An additional 500,000 people have fled the country to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Insecurity and conflict are also responsible for the increase in displaced persons in Central Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo alone accounts for 44 per cent of sub-Saharan displaced persons. Much of the blame lies with armed groups in the east of the country, including the resurgence of the M23.

In West Africa, the situation in the Sahel is pushing victims to neighbouring countries in the Gulf of Guinea, such as Côte d'Ivoire, which hosts more than 27,000 Burkinabe refugees fleeing jihadist violence.

The climatic factor also accentuates crises. In 2022, the Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in its history, leading to two million more displaced people in the region. Conversely, the floods have also affected already displaced populations. With two million people, Nigeria broke its record, as did Chad, which experienced the worst floods in 30 years.

This situation is all the more alarming as funding for humanitarian aid is increasingly decreasing. A situation due to the war in Ukraine that collects the most donations, but especially to the lack of interest in the crises occurring in Africa, according to the UNHCR.

What makes our work more and more difficult is that most crises in Africa are forgotten in most of the media and it does not attract the attention of donors. Last year, we were forced to make a very strong appeal for donations at the end of the year, because we could not get enough donations to cover the needs. And this year, we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Olga Sarrado, UNHCR spokesperson

Sidy Yansané

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Refugees
  • International migration