By Vatican News staff writer
Natural disasters and conflicts last year forced millions to relocate within their country, sometimes two to three times, pushing the number of internally displaced people (IDP) worldwide to its highest number on record.
At the end of 2020, there were at least 55 million internally displaced people, according to a latest report issued on Thursday by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).
Now, the number of internally displaced persons is more than double the number of people who have fled across borders as refugees - all these, in spite of the lockdown restrictions imposed by countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Violence and disasters forcing displacement
According to the report, in 2020, about 48 million people were uprooted from their homes as a result of violence and conflict, while the other 7 million were displaced by disasters.
Of this number, about 20 million displaced persons are children under the age of fifteen, and 2.6 million over 65. An estimated 10.5 million are between the ages of 15 and 24, while the age group with the largest number of IDPs are those between 25 and 64, with about 22 million people.
Providing some context to the displacements, the report released on Thursday pointed to escalating violence from extremist groups in countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso last year.
At the same time, long-standing conflicts in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria and Afghanistan continue to cause large numbers to flee.
The IDMC findings also noted that the South Asian region accounted for almost one-third of the world’s new disaster placement in 2020, because Cyclone Amphan triggered nearly five million evacuations across Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Myanmar in May. In addition, monsoon rains and floods continued to affect the whole region from June, particularly Bangladesh.
Furthermore, the monitors highlighted that in places where conflicts and natural disasters met, many people were uprooted several times, contributing to 40.5 million displacements last year – the highest such tally in over a decade.
The countries with the highest disaster-driven internal displacements are Afghanistan (1.1 million), India (929,000) and Pakistan (806,000), while those with the highest conflict-driven displacements include Syria (6.6 million), DRC (5.3 million) and Colombia (4.9million).
Overall, the country with the highest number of IDPs last year was China, with a total of just over five million. It is followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh and India.