225 Million Internal Displacements in Asia Pacific

225 Million Internal Displacements in Asia Pacific

With over 225 million internal displacements or forced movements within borders,  Asia and Pacific is the region most affected by disaster displacement worldwide, according to a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 

The internal displacements movements triggered by disasters in the region during 2010−2021 was over three-quarters of the global total for this period, said the report “disaster Development in Asia and Pacific”.  This represents an annual average of 18.8 million, or more than three-quarters of the global total of displacements during this period., it added.


East Asia and South-east Asia had the highest number of disaster displacements—nearly two-thirds of the total— closely followed by South Asia. All three subregions are densely populated and highly exposed to various hazards. Pacific island states bear the greatest displacement risk relative to their population size.

The People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and India recorded the highest numbers of forced movements, yet it is Pacific island countries who bear the greatest displacement risk relative to their population size, the report said.

IDMC’s Global Monitoring and Reporting Manager, Vicente Anzellini said “Asia and the Pacific is the world’s most rapidly urbanising region, and the expansion of cities in disaster-prone areas increases people’s exposure to displacement.”

“As the intensity and frequency of disasters are expected to increase, people uprooted from home will have less time to recover, potentially trapping them in cycles of prolonged or repeated displacement,” he said.


In the report, authors point out Weather-related hazards such as floods, tropical storms and monsoon rains, responsible for 95 per cent of all disaster displacements across the region. They stated that Floods triggered the most, with 113.6 million movements, or 50% of the total. As urbanisation and infrastructure development increase, so too will the risk of flood displacement. This could have grave consequences for communities, as seen in Pakistan where more than 33 million people have been affected by record-breaking pre-monsoon flooding. 

Although less frequent, geophysical events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions triggered an estimated 11.8 million internal displacements, equivalent to 5.2% of the total. Displacement associated with slow-onset hazards including riverbank erosion, extreme temperatures, droughts, and glacial melt has also been reported across the region, with 760,000 internal displacements, or 0.3% of the total.


The cost of disasters in the region is estimated to be several hundred billions of dollars each year, and this does not include the economic impact of displacement itself. Financial costs and losses weigh disproportionately on those with limited resources.

“While displacement often demands a humanitarian response, it is first and foremost a development issue,” said Noelle O’Brien, ADB’s Chief of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Group. “It disrupts and erodes the development gains of affected communities and can have an impact on their longer-term stability and resilience to future shocks.”


IDMC’s Director, Alexandra Bilak opined that efforts should be focused on reducing displacement risk and supporting durable solutions for those affected by disasters and the effects of climate change.”Robust data on the scale, duration and severity of displacement will help guide future action, and critical knowledge and expertise can be shared with improved regional collaboration,” she said.

Some Key Areas of Focus

Enhance data collection and analysis on disaster displacement to systematically record the scale and severity of the phenomenon, as well as its impacts on people and economies;

• Develop national policy frameworks on disaster displacement to ensure immediate, comprehensive, and inclusive support to IDPs;

• Invest in the planning and financing of durable solutions to disaster displacement, including options for return to areas of origin, or integration in host communities or other areas;

• Assess the risk of future disaster displacement and its potential consequences on people and economies to develop more effective, comprehensive, and inclusive prevention plans and allocate adequate resources in vulnerable areas;

• Strengthen regional collaboration on disaster displacement and foster the sharing of knowledge, experience, and expertise across Asia and the Pacific.


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