War And Climate Disasters Displaced A Record Of 55 Million People In 2020

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Above photo: A camp for internally displaced people in Dori, Burkina Faso November 24, 2020. Zohra Bensemra/Reuters.

Amid a raging global pandemic, a record 55 million people were displaced from their homes but still living in their countries by the end of 2020, according to the latest report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center..

While the figures have been increasing steadily for over a decade, as per the Geneva-based center’s annual reports, ferocious storms, floods and conflicts displaced more people within their own country in 2020 – in spite of the global pandemic – than in any other year covered by the IDMC’s reporting.

Shockingly, the report found that internally displaced people outnumbered refugees, those who flee to another country, by a ratio of two to one.

The research center, which is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), also cautioned that their figures were likely a “significant underestimate” as global pandemic travel restrictions frustrated efforts to more accurately collect data.

“It’s shocking that someone was forced to flee their home inside their own country every single second last year,” said NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland. “We are failing to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from conflict and disasters.”

Roughly 48 million of the total 55 million became internally displaced in their home countries as a result of internal conflict, while the remaining seven million were forced to flee natural disasters.

Extremist groups operating in countries such as Ethiopia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso, along with persistent conflicts in countries like Congo, Syria and Afghanistan were major drivers of human displacement in 2020.

The remainder was caused by numerous, particularly intense, cyclone seasons throughout the Americas and the Asia-Pacific regions, along with protracted rainy seasons in both the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, further exacerbating the plight of internally displaced peoples the world over.

The highest number of internally displaced people were found in China (five million), amid regular and catastrophic flooding, followed by Bangladesh and the Philippines, which each saw around 4.4 million people displaced.