Violence and armed conflict displaced 11 million people within their countries last year, the equivalent of 30,000 people a day fleeing their homes, according to a humanitarian aid group’s annual report.
The cumulative number of people affected by such “internal displacement” rose 15 percent by the end of 2014 from a year earlier, to 38 million people worldwide, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said in its Global Overview report.
Refugee camps across borders from countries torn by conflict are the public symbol of the toll taken by warfare and terrorism. But the report released on Wednesday in New York focused on internal displacement driven by protracted crises such as those in Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria. Those five countries accounted for 60 percent of the new displacement worldwide.
The figures bring internal displacement to the highest level in a decade, exceeding that during the 2004 crisis in Darfur, sectarian violence in Iraq in the mid- to late-2000s and the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.
“Crises often reveal underlying structural challenges, particularly when the displacement they cause becomes protracted, and potentially creates a feedback loop that traps states and their citizens in a spiral of increasing vulnerability,” the council concluded in the report.
The report contains no estimate of the economic costs of this unprecedented displacement, such as lost productivity, an increased need for aid and higher unemployment. It does say that those forced to move may “outstay their welcome,” exhausting already scare resources for the communities where they end up.
Iraq saw the most internal displacement last year, with at least 2.2 million of its people moving to escape Islamic State’s control, according to the report. Cumulatively, Syria is the country with the most internally displaced people, with at least 7.6 million, or 35 percent of the population, having fled their homes.
Ukraine was the only country in Europe where conflict has spurred internal displacement. At least 646,500 people fled to escape fighting between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatist forces in the country’s east.
The report was based on data and analyses gathered in 60 nations and territories.