In 2017, there were 30.6 million new displacements associated with conflict and disasters across 143 countries and territories
"With 30.6 million internal displacements in 2017, which is the equivalent of 80,000 people displaced each day, it’s time for an honest conversation, led by affected countries and with support from the international community, on the most effective ways to turn the tide on internal displacement"
Alexandra Bilak, IDMC Director
Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Iraq accounted for more than half of the figure.
Weather-related hazards triggered the vast majority of the new displacements, with floods accounting for 8.6 million, and storms, mainly tropical cyclones, 7.5 million.
The distribution of internal displacement across the globe in 2017 mirrored the patterns of previous years. Most of that associated with conflict took place in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, although there was also significant new displacement in South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific. Displacement associated with disasters was most prevalent in East Asia and Pacific, South Asia and the Americas.
5.5M for conflict
2.6M for disasters
Almost half of the new displacements associated with conflict and violence took place in Sub-Saharan Africa. There were 5.5 million in 2017, double the figure for the previous year. Disasters also triggered significant displacement in the region, forcing almost 2.6 million people to flee their homes.
As many as 2,166,000 new displacements were recorded during the year, second only to Syria, and there were about 4.5 million IDPs in the country as of the end of 2017.
The heavy security presence in the region and constraints on activities such as fishing, which the militants are said to have infiltrated, have placed an additional burden on returnees, IDPs and their host communities.
4.5M for conflict
233,000 for disasters
The Middle East and North Africa accounted for 38 per cent of new displacements associated with conflict and violence worldwide, with almost 4.5 million recorded. New displacement was concentrated in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, all of which the UN classified as level-three emergencies. Disasters displaced about 234,000 people across the region.
An end to the conflict in Syria is still nowhere in sight, but 2017 may have marked the opening of a new chapter.
Unrelenting violence and shifting insecurity propelled Yemen to several bleak milestones in 2017: 1,000 days of war, a million suspected cases of cholera, two million people displaced by conflict as of end of year and a humanitarian crisis now widely regarded as the world’s most acute.
705,000 for conflict
8.6M for disasters
Disasters displaced 8.6 million people in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 46 per cent of the global total. The region was not immune from displacement associated with conflict, with 705,000 new displacements.
The combination of hazard intensity, high exposure and vulnerability puts the Vietnamese population as a whole at high risk of disaster displacement. Ten disaster events caused 633,000 new displacements in 2017.
The responses of the governments of Indonesia and Vanuatu to volcanic activity in 2017 show how effective early warning systems can be in reducing people’s exposure to hazards. They also illustrate the fact that displacement need not always be a negative outcome, in that pre-emptive evacuations save lives and are an effective resilience measure.
634,000 for conflict
2.8M for disasters
Disasters triggered most of the displacement in South Asia in 2017, with the exception of Afghanistan where conflict triggered 474,000 new displacements. Many of the 2.8 million new displacements associated with sudden-onset disasters took place in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka during the monsoon season.
After almost four decades of conflict and violence, the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2017 and the country was reclassified from post-conflict to one of active conflict again.
457,000 for conflict
4.5M for disasters
At 4.5 million, the number of people displaced by disasters in the Americas was about ten times higher than the 457,000 who fled conflict and violence in 2017.
Ten hurricanes affected around 20 countries and territories, of which six developed into category 3 storms or above. The three major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, displaced over 3 million people in the space of a month.Spotlight - NTCA →
There has been a marked upsurge in recent years in the number of people fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – known collectively as the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) – to escape drug related violence, the activities of organised crime gangs, conflicts over land and other generalised violence.
21,000 for conflict
66,000 for disasters
Three-quarters of the displacement recorded in Europe and Central Asia was associated with disasters. Accurate figures for displacement associated with conflict are difficult to come by. Ceasefire violations along the contact line in Ukraine led to 21,000 new displacements, but a number of issues prevent the accurate profiling of the country’s IDPs. Displacement associated with conflict in Turkey continues to be an extremely sensitive topic. Other governments in the region have stopped reporting on displacement or claim there is none on their territory.
The conflict in Ukraine between the government and pro-Russia separatists in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk began in 2014 and remains unresolved, despite the Minsk I and II agreements signed in 2014 and 2015.
A total of 40 million people are estimated to be living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence as of the end of 2017. Seventy-six per cent of the world’s conflict IDPs are concentrated in just ten countries, many of which have struggled with high levels of displacement for decades.
An unknown number of people remain displaced as a result of disasters that occur in 2017. The scale of displacement induced by development projects also remains uncertain.
Since the publication of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in 1998, programmes and policies to protect and assist IDPs have not been sufficient to cope with, much less reduce, the growing number of new displacements or the cumulative number of IDPs over time. A new approach is essential.
Beyond the need to improve humanitarian responses to these crises, more investments must be made at the national and international levels in sustainable development, peacebuilding, addressing the impacts of climate change and disaster risk reduction.
Authority and accountability should lie with the highest levels of government, combined with the devolution of resources and decision-making power to local authorities. To enable this, national capacity for monitoring, planning and implementation needs to be systematically built and maintained.
Failure to address long-term displacement has the potential to undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and progress on other international agreements.Part 2 - Off the GRID →
Accurate measurements of displacement and displacement risk are required to measure progress toward global targets, and an accurate understanding of the dynamics of displacement situations and the needs of IDPs is required for effective action on the ground.
Some of the gaps we encountered were the same as last year, including limited geographic coverage across and within countries, difficulties in distinguishing between new, secondary or tertiary displacements, challenges in obtaining disaggregated and geospatially referenced data on IDPs and their movements, and accounting for all types of displacement.
Countries facing internal displacement must drive policymaking. Over the coming years, countries will have to better account for IDPs and displacement risk, and make addressing internal displacement an integral part of development planning and governance at both the local and national level.
To make genuine progress at the national, regional and international levels, there needs to be constructive and open dialogue on internal displacement. This must be led by countries impacted by the issue, with the support of international partners, and in line with their national priorities and realities.
Alexandra is the director of IDMC. She has over fifteen years' experience working with international and local NGOs and research institutes in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Alexandra has directed a number of research and policy programmes on forced displacement in conflict and post-conflict contexts, and has published extensively on these themes.
Since 2014, she has led IDMC’s work on displacement in the context of conflict and violence, disasters and development projects, and has directed the publication of IDMC’s flagship reports the Global Overview, Global Estimates and Global Report on Internal Displacement. She has particular interest in understanding the political economy and drivers of protracted internal displacement, and in finding policy and programmatic approaches to displacement that offer real solutions to internally displaced people and bridge the gap between prevention and risk reduction, peacebuilding, humanitarian action and sustainable development.
Alexandra lived and worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2004 to 2008, in Kenya from 2009 to 2014, and has worked extensively across Central, East and West Africa. She holds a Master's degree in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and a DEA in African Studies and Political Science from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Alexandra is fluent in French and English.
Bina has extensive programme and research experience on socio-economic development in low income countries. Having previously worked in Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and the Philippines, her research interests include the structural causes of crises, economic and development impacts of disaster and conflict, internal displacement and forced migration.
She has worked for the German Ministry for Development, the Aga Khan Development Network, Christian Aid and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Since 2010, she served as UNISDR’s Policy and Research Coordinator and has co-authored and led the production of the Global Assessment Reports (GARs) since 2011.
In spring 2017, Bina joined IDMC as the Head of Policy & Research and leads IDMC's team of senior advisors and researchers in displacement-related policy analysis and evidence building, working closely with the Data & Analysis and Communications teams. Bina holds a Masters in Economics and Sociology from the University of Bielefeld and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Jan Egeland is Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). In September 2015, Egeland was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Special Adviser to the UN Special Envoy for Syria with a focus on humanitarian access and protection of civilians.
From 2003-2006, Egeland served as UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Before taking up his post in NRC in 2013, Egeland came from the position as Europe Director of Human Rights Watch (2011−2013), and prior to that as Executive Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (2007−2011).
He has also served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser to Colombia (1999−2001) and State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990−1997). In 2006, Time Magazine named Egeland as one of the ‘100 people who shape our world’.
Justin Ginnetti is IDMC’s Head of Data and Analysis. He joined IDMC in 2012 after having served as a policy officer at the UN’s office of disaster risk reduction (UNISDR) where he worked on the Global Assessment Report. He served as a chapter scientist and contributing author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters (SREX), and the WMO’s guidance on assessing droughts. At IDMC, Justin and his team are responsible for all of the figures in the Global Report on Internal Displacement. He also leads IDMC’s efforts to estimate future displacement risk, assess displacement associated with slow-onset hazards, detect incidents of internal displacement and fill gaps in data through the use of mathematical models, analysis of “big data” and new technologies.
Justin holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he studied climate change-induced displacement and forced migration of agro-pastoralists in the Horn of Africa. Previously, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania.
He is fluent in English and French.
Vicente works in the Policy & Research department as Coordinator of the Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID), working closely with all departments for the development of IDMC’s flagship report on internal displacement.
He worked for the Risk Knowledge Section and the Regional Office for Africa at UNISDR, where he worked on a global policy review exercise that formed the basis for national policy indicators for the Sendai Framework, as well as coordinating research and country programmes, developing disaster loss and damage data and analysis, and government capacity building on risk knowledge at national and regional levels. He worked in a number of countries across Africa, Central and Southern Asia, and the Pacific.
Vicente holds a BA in History and Geography from the University of Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) and a MA in Human Geography and Migration Studies from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland). He speaks Spanish, French and English.