The number of people living in internal displacement reached a record 55 million by the end of 2020, according to a recent global report brought out by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
Apart from Covid 19 intense storms and persistent conflict, 40.5 million new displacements were triggered across the world by disasters and violence, the Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2021) said.
IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said that the figures of displaced were alarming and they were collected at the height of Covid 19 pandemic and movement restrictions when data collection was interrupted.
The GRID 2021 notes that escalating violence and expansion of extremist groups in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso fuelled some of the fastest growing displacement crises. Large numbers also fled Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Afghanistan because of long running conflicts.
In the report, the IDMC said that weather related events, especially floods and storms were responsible for 98% of all disaster displacement. Intense cyclone seasons in the Americas, South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific, and extended rainy seasons across the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, displaced millions of people. The report notes that Cyclone Amphan alone triggered around five million displacements across India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. The Atlantic hurricane season was the most active with about 30 storms, including hurricanes Iota and Eta that affected 12 Central American and Caribbean countries.
The GRID 2021 also mentioned that conflict and disasters mixed up led to te displacement of several people for a second or even third time. It points out that several people who fled flooding in Yemen had already been uprooted at least once by the country’s civil war.
The 2021 Global Report underlines that the number of people living in internal displacement has shot up steadily for more than a decade. It reached a record high as of December 31, 2020, when there were more than twice as many internally displaced people than refugees.
The report maintains that 48 million people fled conflict and violence and seven million fled because of disasters.
GRID 2021 mainly focused on climate change. The IDMC report said that rising temperatures are increasing the intensity and frequency of weather-related hazards, but climate change is not the only factor that drives displacement risk.
It also said global attention on the issue is growing. Countries have begun to invest in proactive measures, such as planned relocation and community-led initiatives to reduce displacement risk.
Bilak said that displacement crises arose from many interconnected factors like climate and environmental change, protracted conflicts and political instability. The IDMC director said that the world has become more fragile by the Covid-19 pandemic. She noted that sustained political will and investment in locally-owned solutions was more important than ever.
Noting that a multitude of risk modelling initiatives have emerged in recent years, the report said that it was now time to take stock of progress and ensure collaboration and coordination. There is also a need to build climate change impacts into these models and do more to assess future vulnerability and exposure. Rapid population growth affects both of these factors so dynamically that models will have to be updated more regularly if they are to inform effective early warning systems and risk reduction measures. A systematic monitoring of disaster displacement, risk and what is being done to reduce it over time worldwide is needed.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre was established in 1998 as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). They offer a rigorous, independent and trusted service to the international community. Their work informspolicy and operational decisions that improve the lives of the millions of people living in internal displacement, or at risk of becoming displaced in the future.