According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, 40.3 million persons worldwide are displaced within their country. The number of refugees who have left their home country currently stands at 21.3 million.
In 2016 alone, there were 31.1 million new internal displacements due to conflict, violence and natural disasters such as floods, storms and severe weather conditions. The number of internal displacements worldwide has nearly doubled since 2000 and has increased sharply over the last five years, according to a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Iraq saw the most displacements due to conflict and violence in 2016, followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen. In total, 6.9 million people were displaced due to conflict and violence last year, with significant uprooting continuing in the Middle East.
Violent clashes and armed attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo caused record numbers of new displacements in 2016 alone, with 922,000 people having to leave their homes. Sub-Sahara Africa accounted for 38 percent of displacements due to conflict and violence, followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 30.7 percent. In South Asia, 1.1 million persons were IDPs, with India and the Philippines being the countries with the most cases.
Disaster accounted for 24.2 million new displacements in 2016. Weather-related hazards, in particular floods, were responsible for the majority of the displacements and Asia was the most affected. China, India and the Philippines had the highest absolute numbers, but small island states like Fiji or Tonga had a higher of ratio of IDPs per person.
Climate change is expected to exacerbate disaster-driven displacements as weather conditions become more extreme and countries most exposed to natural and human-made disaster are frequently high-risk environments with low capacity to cope.
"Despite internal displacement being the starting point of many onward journeys, it has been overshadowed by the current global focus on refugees and migrants," IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said in a statement. "Without the right kind of support and protection, a person internally displaced today may become a refugee, an asylum seeker or an international migrant tomorrow," she added.