Mid-year stocktaking by the Switzerland-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre finds escalating conflict and violence in the first half of this year have triggered an upsurge in the numbers of people fleeing their homes and becoming newly displaced within their own countries.
Around 14.6 million people in 127 countries have been newly displaced between January and July because of natural and man-made disasters. This is about one million more than in the first half of last year.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre report finds conflict and violence have sparked around one third or 4.8 million new displacements, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. IDMC director Alexandra Bilak says Syria tops the rank of countries with the highest increase in newly displaced. She says the military offensive in the country’s northwest province of Idlib has prompted more than 1.4 million civilians to flee their homes.
“DRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo that also has seen a sharp increase in violence and armed violence and insecurity, particularly in its northeastern province of Ituri, which has also led to, as Syria 1.4 million new displacements,” she said.
Bilak says Burkina Faso, with nearly a-half million newly displaced, has become the worst displacement crisis in West Africa as armed conflict has expanded across the region. She expresses alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situations in Cameroon, Mozambique, Niger and Somalia. She says growing conflict and violence in these countries have resulted in more new displacements in the first half of this year than in all of 2019.
But she notes the situation of Yemen, currently considered the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, remains of particular concern.
“Although the numbers for Yemen are low, the reported numbers are low, we are highlighting the triple crisis that Yemen faces right now in the form of, of course, this ongoing and persistent conflict that has been exacerbated by high infection rates of COVID-19, as well as more recently some of the worst floods that the country has experienced in years,” she said.
Indeed, the report finds slow and sudden onset of natural disasters around the world have triggered 9.8 million new displacements. It reports cyclones in India and Bangladesh, floods and swarms of locust in East Africa, devastating wildfires in Australia and the United States have resulted in the forced evacuations of millions of people in fear of their lives.