Africa – Internally Displaced Persons

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New report ‘Global Overview 2015: People Internally Displaced by Conflict and Violence’ charts soaring numbers of IDPs across Africa

The report, issued  by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, claims that a record 38 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, of which 11 million were newly displaced in 2014, largely from violent conflicts in Iraq, Syria and South Sudan.

Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General, said that “these are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signalling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians”. These figures for internally displaced persons (IDP) are more than double that of refugees, who more frequently make international news when they cross national borders.

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Source: NRC Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

While conflicts in the Middle East accounted for the largest proportion of global IDPs, conflicts in Africa also accounted for significant percentages particularly South Sudan (11.87%) , the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) (9.13%) and Nigeria (8.88%). The report provides overviews of the situation across the continent.

Central Africa, according to the report, is a hugely complex displacement situation. By the end of 2014 there were 7.9 million IDPs across Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), DR Congo, South Sudan and Sudan, comprising 70% of all forced displacement on the continent.

Displacement levels in Central Africa saw an increase of 9% between 2013 and 2014 and continue to grow; in South Sudan, the UN News Service reported on May 7th that the number of IDPs seeking refuge with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has grown to 53,000 following recent fighting.

Evidence suggests that the majority of regional conflicts occur over the control of land, resources and economic power, although the report also indicates some more unknown dynamics, highlighting that many communities undertake pendular movements from places of refuge then back to places of origin, experiencing multiple displacements. Similarly limited information exists on the effects of displacement on nomadic groups such as the Fulani herders in CAR.

In East AfricaKenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Uganda – there are estimated to be 1.9 million IDPs, with Somalia holding the largest proportion at 1.1 million. Kenya has seen a huge growth with 220,000 reported in 2014 rising from from 55,000 in 2013. According to the report, factors contributing to displacement in the region include inter-communal tensions and ethno-religious divisions, coupled with rising food insecurity. The situation is particularly stark in Somalia where IDPs are reported to have the highest levels of acute malnutrition and a Human Rights Watch report on April 20th  documented that 21,000 IDPs are being forcibly removed in the capital Mogadishu.

In West Africa – primarily Nigeria, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire – the total number of IDPs is around 1.5 million, with the newly displaced accounting for one million of this. Nigeria has the largest number of IDPs resulting predominately from Boko Haram violence which has also spilled over into Cameroon forcing the displacement of  a further 40,000 people.

The situation in North Africa is more closely tied to conflicts in the Middle East. The combined Middle-East/North Africa region has seen at least 11.9 million cumulatively displaced,  3.8 million of whom have been recently displaced. This is occurring largely in Iraq and Syria following the emergence of the Islamic State insurgency, but also in Libya where 400,000 IDPs fled in 2014, six times the amount in 2013.

However the figures cited are estimates and the IRIN explained that the actual figures could be much higher due to differences and difficulties in the way IDP data is collected. In some cases those living in designated camps can be more easily counted but are only a segment of the displaced population, as most head to urban centres and become almost invisible.

Read the full report here

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Refugees
Political, Social  & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue 12, Pp. 20378c-20379c

South Sudan: Growing International and Regional Frustration
P
olitical, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.9, Pp.20291C-20293B

Cameroon: Boko Haram Exploits Poverty
P
olitical, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.3, Pp.20498A

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