The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) have issued a report indicating that there were 31 million persons world-wide newly internally displaced in 2016. Jan Egeland, secretary general of NRC said that “internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one.” (By law, refugees are those who have fled their own country to another because of a well-founded fear of persecution; the internally displaced remain in their own country.)
The report states that there were 6.9 million new internally displaced persons (IDPs) displaced by armed conflict, of whom 2.6 million were in sub-Saharan Africa were the largest regional grouping. The second largest numbers were in the Middle East and North Africa (2.1 million). The six countries with the most new IDPs were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (922,000 new displacements in 2016), Syria (824,000), Iraq (659,000), Afghanistan (653,000), Nigeria (501,000), and Yemen (478,000).
Three times as many were displaced by natural disasters than by armed conflict. Floods, storms, and wildfires were cited by the IDMC and NRC report, including in China and India. It noted that the expectation is that displacements will increase because of climate change.
The large number of new displacements in Nigeria is no surprise because of the continuing operations of Boko Haram. However, in Congo the very large numbers appear to be the result both of new conflicts in North and South Kivu provinces combined with a long history of chronic violence and instability.