Displacement & MigrationNews

Over 40 Million More People Displaced In 2020, Highest In 10 Years — Report

Sub-headline: For every second of the year, at least one new person was pushed into displacement.

According to the Global Report on Internal Displacement for this year, 40.5 million people became displaced across the world in 2020, bringing the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to 55 million as of last Dec.

This is the highest figure of displacements recorded in one year due to conflicts and disasters since 2011.

The alarming statistics were contained in a report released by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) on Thursday, May 20.

“Today’s displacement crises arise from many interconnected factors, including climate and environmental change, protracted conflicts and political instability,”noted  Alexandra Bilak, IDMC director. 

“In a world made more fragile by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustained political will and investment in locally-owned solutions will be more important than ever.” 

“It is particularly concerning that these high figures were recorded against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic when movement restrictions obstructed data collection and fewer people sought out emergency shelters for fear of infection.”

Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), observed that the implication of the research findings is that at least one person was pushed into displacement every second of 2020.

“We are failing to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from conflict and disasters,” he warned.

The report estimated the economic cost of the displacement for 2020 alone to be nearly $20.5 billion, which would take care of the housing, education, health and security needs of IDPs, as well as account for their loss of income.

Source: Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID), 2021

Events in Sub-Saharan Africa led to 27.4 per cent of the displacements in 2020, affecting over 11 million people. The region, which has the second-highest number of victims, is trailing East Asia and Pacific where IDPs constitute 30.3 per cent of the global total.

Of the victims, 6.78 million were displaced by conflicts and violence while 4.3 million were displaced due to disasters, from geophysical to weather-related ones.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had the highest number of displaced people as of Dec. 31, 2020, with 5.27 million victims, followed by Somalia (2.97 million), Nigeria (2.73 million), Sudan (2.28 million), and Ethiopia (2.06 million).

“Most of the new displacements triggered by conflict and violence in 2020 were recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. The majority took place in DRC, Syria and Ethiopia, as in previous years. An unprecedented number were recorded in Mozambique, and there were significant increases in Azerbaijan and Haiti,” the report noted.

“The number of new displacements fell in countries including Iraq, Libya and Sudan, thanks to ceasefire agreements and peacebuilding initiatives. Many such situations are still fragile, however, and more efforts are needed to reduce the risk of conflict and displacement reoccurring.”


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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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