Conflicts such as the one in Ukraine and natural disasters, many of them a consequence of climate change, caused the number of internally displaced persons on the planet to reach a record 71 million in 2022, according to the annual report produced by two major Geneva-based NGOs.
The figure highlighted in the new report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) represents an increase of 20% over the previous year.
“Displacement is growing in scale, complexity and scope, with factors such as food insecurity, climate change and conflict adding several layers to the phenomenon,” IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said when the study was launched.
Of those displaced, a total 62.5 million had left their homes due to conflict and violencewhich represents 17% more than in 2021, with the most affected countries being Syria (6.8 million displaced persons), Ukraine (5.9 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.6 million) and Colombia (4 .7 million).
The regions with the most displaced
These four countries, together with Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan, account for three quarters of the internally displaced worldwide, according to the report.
Those displaced by natural disasters reached 8.7 million last year, an interannual increase of 45%, highlighting in this case more than a million people who left their homes due to the floods in Pakistan, although the number was even higher in the neighboring Afghanistan (2.1 million).
Other countries with significant disaster-affected communities included Nigeria (854,000 IDPs), Ethiopia (717,000), South Sudan (665,000) and the United States (543,000).
The food crisis and its consequences
The NGO authors of the report underline the growing relationship between internal displacement and food insecurity: three quarters of the countries facing significant levels of food shortages host this type of communities forced to leave their homes, including Nigeria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia , Yemen and DR Congo.
“The war in Ukraine fueled a global food security crisis that has hit internally displaced people the hardest, a perfect storm that has undermined years of progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition,” stressed the secretary general of the NRC, Jan Egeland (former humanitarian chief of the United Nations).
Last year, according to the report, there were 60.9 million movements of displaced people on the planet (some of them were able to change settlements several times and in some cases finally return to their homes), a strong increase of 60 percent compared to to 2021.
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Of those movements, 32.6 million were due to natural disasters, says the study, noting that a quarter of them (8.2 million) were caused by floods in Pakistan, and 1.1 million were due to drought in Pakistan. Somalia, which has caused famines in various parts of the Horn of Africa country.
Climatic disasters and their impact on displacement
More than 19 million movements were caused by floods, 9.9 million by storms, 2.2 million by droughts, 366,000 from fires and 12,000 from heat waves, all weather-related disasters, while 699,000 were due to earthquakes.
A good part of the displacements caused by natural disasters had to do with the effects of the La Niña phenomenon, associated with the cooling of the Pacific waters and which causes both floods and droughts in different latitudes of the planet.
Regarding the 28.3 million movements caused by conflicts and violence, the report highlighted that 60% were due to the war in Ukraine (17 million), although it also highlighted the 4 million caused by violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the 106,000 in Haiti (five times more than in 2021).
The number of displacements due to conflicts in 2022 was three times higher than the average of the last decade.