Global IDPs crisis reaches unprecedented heights amidst mounting conflicts and calamities.

May 19, 2023, Fred Oluoch

On November 15, 2022, the city of Goma witnessed a perplexing sight of war-displaced individuals fleeing. The Internal Monitoring Displacement Centre (IMDC) for the Norwegian Refugee Council, in their report “Internal displacements by conflict and disasters in 2022,” sheds light on the severity of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa. The region alone accounted for 45% of global displacement numbers, amounting to 31.7 million people.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo alone witnessed over five million internally displaced persons, while Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan struggled with 3.8 million, 3.9 million, and 3.5 million displaced individuals, respectively. The numbers are overwhelming and mind-boggling.

Ukraine takes the lead globally with 16.9 million, becoming the epicenter of the war with Russia. 2022 has been brutal for Ethiopia and Somalia, taking center stage in the number of internally displaced individuals due to conflicts; the global figures reached 71.1 million.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 28 million people were displaced due to conflicts, while natural disasters such as floods and droughts led to 3.7 million displacements. Sudan and Nigeria joined the top five countries to bear the brunt of the displacement crisis adversely.

The situation is getting more complicated, and factors like protracted conflicts, food insecurity, and climate change are making it worse. Traditional coping mechanisms in the Horn of Africa like livestock grazing have been exhausted with climate shocks, and the region faced its most severe drought in 2022. Somalia recorded the highest displacements of 1.1 million, while Kenya faced 316,000 movements. Ethiopia witnessed 686,000 drought displacements, and the situation was gruesome in the affected regions of Somalia and Oromia that also suffered from conflict and violence.

Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, thinks that overlapping crises worldwide are like a bursting storm. Conflict and disasters last year had aggravated pre-existing vulnerabilities, initiating displacement on an unprecedented scale. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s leading producers of grain and fertilizers, and the conflict between the neighbors has resulted in global food security crises, making it worse for internally displaced individuals.

Consecutive disasters in the Philippines, Madagascar, and South Sudan forced people to flee repeatedly, delaying their recovery and prolonging their displacement. Escalating conflicts and disasters like flooding in Pakistan forced millions to flee in 2022. The report suggests that food insecurity is often a consequence of displacement with lasting impacts on both IDPs and the host communities. Improvement in data and analysis is required to understand the relationship between food security and displacement.

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