Nearly '76m IDPs' recorded worldwide with number likely to rise

At least 26.4 million people, including 1.2 million from Pakistan, flee their homes due to disasters, IDPs monitor says

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A displaced girl carries a bottle of water she filled from nearby stranded flood-waters, as her family takes refuge in a camp, in Sehwan, Pakistan, September 30, 2022. — Reuters
  • 1.2mn IDPs recorded in Pakistan due to disasters, report says.
  • Number of IDPs increased more than 50% in last five years.
  • Pakistan accounted for around half of total displacements in South Asia.

Conflicts and disasters around the world have caused nearly 76 million internally displaced people (IDPs) to flee their homes for refuge by the end of 2023.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, in its annual Global Report on Internal Displacement, recorded a total of 75.9 million IDPs by the end of the last year, pushing the number upwards following the conflicts in Sudan and Gaza, and numerous disaster events unfolding worldwide.

According to the NGO monitor, the number of such individuals increased more than 50% in the last five years and the colossal figure was a new end-of-year high by its count. The figure bumped up from 71.1 million, which was recorded at the end of 2022.

The IDMC, in its report, revealed that 68.3 million people worldwide were displaced by conflict and violence, and 7.7 million by disasters.

The report mentioned that around 3.7 million internal displacements were reported in South Asia in 2023. "Disasters triggered 3.6 million, the lowest figure since 2018."

From 2014 to 2023 in Pakistan, at least 1,216,000 (1.2 million) individuals became IDPs due to disasters, while 23,000 were displaced because of conflicts.

Screengrab of internally displaced people from 2014-2023 in South Asia. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

"Pakistan recorded the second highest number of IDPs in the region, with about 1.2 million people displaced by disasters," the report stated, highlighting that most people were "forced to flee their homes during the 2022 floods".

Meanwhile, the data related to internal displacement (movements) stated that at least 732,000 internal displacement took place due to disasters, while 2,800 were attributed to conflicts from 2014 to 2023.

Screengrab of internal displacements from 2014-2023 in South Asia. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

"Pakistan accounted for around half of the total with 647,000 displacements, most of which took place in July and particularly in the eastern province of Punjab. Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh were also affected," read the report, adding that the same provinces were the "worst affected" by the devastating 2022 monsoon floods, and some of the communities displaced were forced to flee again in 2023.

Screengrab of IDPs displaced due to disasters around the world. — Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

9.1 million IDPs in Sudan

Over the past five years, the number of IDPs resulting from conflict has increased by 22.6 million, with the two biggest increases in 2022 and 2023.

At 9.1 million, Sudan has the highest number of IDPs recorded for a single country since records began in 2008, the monitor said. Almost half of all IDPs live in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Over the past two years, we've seen alarming new levels of people having to flee their homes due to conflict and violence, even in regions where the trend had been improving," said IDMC director Alexandra Bilak.

"Conflict, and the devastation it leaves behind, is keeping millions from re-building their lives, often for years on end."

'Damning verdict'

The monitor also keeps track of the number of internal displacements: each new forced movement of a person within their borders. People can be displaced several times over.

Last year there were 46.9 million forced movements of people — 20.5 million internal displacements by conflict and violence, and 26.4 million by disasters.

Fighting in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Palestinian territories accounted for nearly two-thirds of new movements of people due to conflict in 2023.

In the Gaza Strip, 1.7 million Palestinians were internally displaced by the end of 2023, with 3.4 million new movements. The bloodiest-ever Gaza war broke out in October last year.

Throughout 2023, there were six million forced movements of people caused by the violence in Sudan — more than in the previous 14 years combined.

It is the second-highest number of forced movements within a year after Ukraine's 16.9 million in 2022.

Of the 26.4 million forced movements due to disasters, a third were in China and Turkey as a result of severe weather events and high-magnitude earthquakes.

The IDMC was created by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 1998.

"We have never, ever recorded so many people forced away from their homes and communities. It is a damning verdict on the failures of conflict prevention and peace-making," said NRC chief Jan Egeland.

"The lack of protection and assistance that millions endure cannot be allowed to continue."

— Additional input by AFP