There were 28 million new displacements associated with conflict and disasters across 148 countries and territories in 2018.
"The number of people living in internal displacement is now the highest it has ever been. Unresolved conflicts, new waves of violence and extreme weather events were responsible for most of the new displacement we saw in 2018."
Alexandra Bilak, IDMC Director
Unresolved conflicts and a rise in communal violence were responsible for most of the 10.8 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence in 2018.
Weather-related hazards, particularly storms, accounted for the majority of the new displacement associated with disasters, triggering 17.2 million displacements in 2018.
Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East were disproportionally affected by displacement associated with conflict and violence in 2018, and new waves were also recorded in South Asia. Displacement associated with disasters mainly affected East Asia and Pacific and South Asia, both regions with high levels of population exposure and vulnerability to hazards.
7.4M for conflict
2.6M for disasters
Millions of people were forced to flee their homes as a consequence of ongoing and new conflict and violence, as well as droughts, floods and storms. Internal displacement in Sub-Saharan Africa was higher than in any other region.
Inter-communal fighting over resources and ethnic tensions led to 2.9 million new displacements in Ethiopia, the highest figure in the world for displacement associated with conflict and violence and four times as much as last year.
The impact of Boko Haram and other non-state armed groups in Cameroon was overshadowed by 437,000 new displacements triggered by the Anglophone conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
New waves of violence in the Middle Belt region added to the ongoing crisis in the north-east to trigger 541,000 new displacements. Floods affected 80 per cent of the country, leading to a further 600,000 displacements.
2.1M for conflict
214,000 for disasters
Conflict and violence continued to drive internal displacement in the region, with more than 2.1 million new displacements in 2018. Almost 11 million people were living in internal displacement as of the end of the year, accounting for more than a quarter of the global total.
Despite the decrease in conflict during 2018, the country’s civil war continued to trigger some of the largest population movements in the world.
The situation in Libya deteriorated significantly in 2018, with 70,000 new displacements associated with conflict and violence recorded, more than double the number for the previous year.
236,000 for conflict
9.3M for disasters
Over a third of the global total new displacements were recorded in the region, most of which were triggered by disasters. From highly exposed countries such as the Philippines, China, Indonesia and Japan, to small island states and territories such as Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Vanuatu, the impacts varied significantly across the vast region.
The country was hit by an unusually high number of disasters that triggered 146,000 new displacements. Though generally well-prepared, some weaknesses in local disaster risk management and early warning systems were exposed.
Reconstruction has begun in Marawi city, a year after the army retook it from ISIL affiliates. However, many remain displaced and the cost of rebuilding is estimated at $1.2 billion.
544,000 for conflict
3.3M for disasters
Large-scale displacement in South Asia was once again triggered by a series of floods, storms and droughts, as well as unresolved conflicts and violence. Nearly 14 per cent of global internal displacement was recorded in this region.South Asia regional overview →
Afghanistan has been plagued by four decades of armed conflict. In 2018, drought added to the existing crisis and triggered 435,000 new displacements.
India experienced 2.8 million new displacements in 2018, among the highest figure in the world. The majority of this was related to monsoon flooding but around 170,000 displacements were triggered by violence.
404,000 for conflict
4.5M for disasters
Weather-related disasters once again impacted several countries in the Americas in 2018. In addition, unresolved conflict, criminal violence and social and economic crises continued to push people to flee.
Unprecedented and devastating wildfires triggered 354,000 new displacements in California in the second half of the year, accounting for around 30 per cent of the total new displacements in the US.
Two displacement crises converged in Colombia in 2018. Fighting between armed groups led to an increase of internal displacement in the country. Additionally, more than 3 million Venezuelans and up to 500,000 Colombians are thought to have fled Venezuela since the start of the crisis.
12,000 for conflict
41,000 for disasters
A total of 53,000 new displacements were recorded across this region in 2018. In addition, almost 2.9 million people were living in internal displacement as of the end of the year, the result of old and unresolved conflicts and territorial disputes in several countries.
A total of 41.3 million people were estimated to be living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence as of the end of 2018, the highest figure ever recorded. Three-quarters, or 30.9 million people, are located in only ten countries, including Syria, Colombia and the DRC. An unknown number of people remain displaced as a result of disasters that occurred in 2018.
As the number of IDPs worldwide continues to rise, it is even more important that all actors working to address internal displacement have comprehensive and accurate data.
Significant advances have been made, including the use of innovative technologies, but partnerships at the national and international level need to be strengthened and the capacity of government agencies to record displacement data needs to be improved. Filling the significant data, analysis and capacity gaps is imperative to progress and a systemic approach is possible. Common standards and better cooperation and coordination are within our reach and will go a long way in providing the evidence base required for policy work, development planning and humanitarian operations.
Appropriate tools for needs assessments, risk analyses, investment planning and progress monitoring already exist and allow states to develop sustainable approaches to ending displacement. The priority now is to provide national and local authorities with the financial and technical support they need to apply them.
The main purpose of triangulating internal displacement data is to increase its credibility and validity. IDMC uses triangulation to validate datasets from various sources that describe the same phenomenon.
For the first time, IDMC was able to address some of the data challenges in assessing the scale of urban displacement by disaggregating the figures by urban and rural locations in 2018.
Conflict and insecurity, climate shocks and changes in the rural economy drive displacement toward cities in many countries. Displacement also increasingly takes place within cities, whether the result of urban conflict, disasters or infrastructure and urban renewal projects.
How IDPs navigate and adapt to urban spaces varies from city to city but many people facing urban displacement experience similar impacts and challenges. On average, 17.8 million people worldwide are at risk of being displaced by floods every year, far more than previously thought. Eighty per cent of them live in urban and peri-urban areas.
The lack of understanding of the scale, duration and severity of urban displacement impedes the design and implementation of appropriate prevention, risk reduction and response measures.
Urban displacement is multidimensional. Resolving it requires integrated approaches across sectors that span development, humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts. Therefore, the leadership and continuous engagement of local authorities before, during and after crises is paramount, as is the active participation of displaced people and their hosts in processes that affect their lives.
Similar patterns emerge regarding displacement occurring in the Colombian city of Medellin and San Salvador in El Salvador. Much of it takes place in marginal neighbourhoods and many people remain in the city.
IDMC’s global disaster displacement risk model for flooding indicates that around 80 per cent of the people at risk of displacement associated with riverine flooding live in urban and peri-urban areas.
More than 30,000 people were evicted from an informal settlement in July 2018 to make way for a road. The project and its consequences were justified as being in the public interest. In reality, people were evicted without adequate notice and homes and schools were bulldozed.
Profiling exercises strengthen the evidence on urban internal displacement by bringing stakeholders together to collaborate in collecting and analysing data.
New housing, land and property laws have been passed recently, raising questions about how IDPs and other groups will be included in the reconstruction process.
The number of people internally displaced by conflict and violence around the world is the highest it has ever been. Many countries and regions are also consistently affected by disasters year after year. Instead of creating the conditions for lasting solutions to displacement, the risk of new, secondary or protracted displacement is increasing in several contexts across the globe.
As our cities grow and the landscape of urban displacement changes, local authorities will be at the forefront of both responding to crises and reducing risk in the long-term. National responsibility and leadership and international accountability now must combine with local action.
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Nazoo, 36, and her five children were forced to leave their home in north-west Afghanistan when drought put their very survival at risk. They fled to a camp on the outskirts of Qala-e-Naw city. Nazoo’s husband has gone to Iran for work and she takes care of her children alone.
“When grass didn’t grow anymore and the water sources dried up, we understood that we were going to have a difficult year ahead. My husband sold the livestock we had. He saved some cash for us, and with the rest he travelled to Iran. After a while, when we couldn’t find anything to eat, we decided to leave home and come to Qala-e-Naw along with other villagers.
“I could only bring some blankets, plates and teapots with me. The rest of our things are still at home. I’m alone here and I don’t have a roof over my head. I would like to go back home as soon as there is some hope. We’ve been living in this desert without any shelter for the last two years and we have only received a bag of flour. I prepare seven or eight naan every day and that’s the only thing we eat, with some tea or water. There is no shop here to buy vegetables or rice, and even if there was one, we wouldn’t be able to buy because we are running out of money.”
Photo: NRC/Enayatullah Azad – September 2018.
Abdulrahman and his youngest daughter Hafasa sit in front of their small shop in the Farestan settlement for internally displaced people in north-west Afghanistan. He sells food, matchboxes, candles and shampoo. Abdulrahman escaped conflict and drought in the Ab Kamari district of Badghis province in mid-2018. He used to be a shopkeeper and farmer back home. He restarted his business in the settlement but he has no more funds to buy stock and customers don’t have money to pay him.
“I don’t have money to buy things. I take the stock from a shopkeeper in Qala-e-Naw without paying him. When I manage to sell something, I go for another round and pay for the previous items. He is a man from my village and has offered me this opportunity to make sure my children don’t die of hunger and cold.”
Photo: NRC/Enayatullah Azad - November 2018.
As drought loomed over the war-torn north-western region of Afghanistan they call home, Gul Jan, 90, and her family fled their village in Ab Kamari district and went to Qala-e-Naw in search of drinking water and food. She, her son Ahmad and her four grandchildren have been living in a makeshift home in the Farestan settlement for internally displaced people for the last four months. The drought also forced Ahmad’s three children Omid, 11, Tamanna, nine, and Mohammad, six, to leave school behind.
“This conflict started when I was in the military some 30 years ago, and it still continues,” said Ahmad. “I was in Paktika province when the fighting began, and I left the army and came home. Since then I haven’t seen a day without bloodshed and killing. My life is totally wasted and now I’m worried about my children. Look at my mother. Does she deserve to live her life in this condition?”
Gul Jan said: “This year is the worst drought I’ve seen in my lifetime. Around 20 years ago we also experienced a drought, but not too many animals died and people didn’t flee their homes on such a large scale.”
Photo: NRC/Enayatullah Azad - 2018.
Zenaida and Marco Antonio live with their six children in a rural area of Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. When Marco Antonio was 14, his father disappeared during the armed conflict in Catatumbo and the family fled to neighbouring Venezuela. His wife Zenaida tells a similar story. She too fled Colombia for Venezuela when her father was killed.
Zenaida has 12 children, six with her first husband, now deceased, and six with Marco Antonio, whom she met in Venezuela. The family live in a makeshift home of sticks, plastic and wood. The conditions are dire but, because they do not have their Colombian identity documents, they are unable to work and do not have access to healthcare.
Photo: NRC/Fernanda Pineda - 2018.
Nyiragine, an 85-year-old widow, has been living in Mungote displacement camp for the last nine years. She fled violence in Kitobo, a small village in North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Nyiragine has become a symbol of DRC’s protracted crisis during which millions of people have been displaced. She shares her small house with her two young grandsons, and has to beg for food because she has nothing. Living conditions in the camp have deteriorated sharply since the last distribution of humanitarian assistance in December 2017. “There is no assistance here, no food, no healthcare. We are suffering,” she said.
Photo: NRC/Ephrem Chiruza - February 2018.
Elamegi, a 26-year-old mother of four, poses with her youngest child in her arms, surrounded by other women from the village of Mbulungu in Kasai-Central province (Democratic Republic of the Congo). "When the war came, my husband had gone into the forest to work. Everyone fled on their own, leaving everything behind. During the flight, one of my children was killed by the militia. I was two months pregnant, and I gave birth alone in the forest. I suffered with my children because I couldn't find anything to eat. I didn't have anyone, I was on my own.”
After spending months hiding to escape the violence of armed groups in the area, Elamegi was able to go back to her village. “When we finally got out of the forest, I had nothing left. My house had been burned down. I didn't get anything back,” she said.
Though calm has returned to Mbulungu and other villages, people are not able to continue their lives as normal. Homes, markets, schools, sanitation facilities and health infrastructure were destroyed in the fighting and services are in disarray.
Photo: NRC/Aléxis Huguet – August 2018.
Nasteho, 30, sits with six of her seven children. Back home in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, she used to run a restaurant business with her husband. They fled with their children to the Koloji displacement camp, near the city of Jijiga, to escape ethnic violence. “We have left everything behind. We used to live in a big house” she said. Nasteho’s family receives some food, but they need more aid to survive. Most of the people in the Koloji camp are ethnic Somalis who have fled violence in the Oromia region.
Photo: NRC/Dejene - November 2018.
Ayele and Shubo are internally displaced with their eight children in Ethiopia. Shubo, 45, contracted polio as a child and needs crutches to walk. "Conflict erupted between the Oromo and the Gedo population. Our house was burnt down by the Gedo people, and our seven sheep and eight cows were stolen," said Ayele.
"We ran to save our lives and the lives of our children,” said Shubo. “Because of my disability, Ayele had to carry me on his back. We had to leave everything behind. Now we are living in misery, away from our home and our things. We do not have clothes. Our children are exposed to cold weather, they don’t have clothes to keep them warm. We do not have any food and my son is ill. We survive through the support of the government and well-wishers.”
They do not, however, plan to return to their former land. "Our house has been destroyed and our property taken away. There is still tension in the area. Our relationship with the neighbouring community has been damaged," Ayele said.
Photo: NRC/Nashon Tado - 2018
Ahlam, 27, with one of her children. The young widow lives in Algarad, an internal displacement camp in Lahj governorate, Yemen, with her four children. She fled from Taiz city 18 months ago. “The clashes were very fierce near our house and our relatives could not go out to bring us food or water. One day my husband went out to do his regular work on a construction site and was shot dead.
“Eventually we had to leave, but I was afraid that bullets and snipers in the mountains would kill us if we approached those areas. I did not expect my life to take this tragic turn and that I would be left alone to take care of myself and my children.”
Her daily routine in the camp involves cooking for her children, but some days they do not have enough food so she goes hungry so they can eat. Most of the people from her village have fled, including her family, but they are not in the camp with her. “Help us and protect our basic right to live in dignity,” Ahlam said. “What we need most in the camp is food and water, our daily necessities in life.”
Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun - 2019.
Suleiman, 45, is a fisherman from Hodeidah currently living in Ras Emran near Aden, Yemen. After some of his friends were killed in airstrikes, he no longer felt safe in his village where he lived with his wife, seven children and two grandchildren. When the clashes moved closer to his home, he heard people say that they should store food because they would not be able to go out. He stored a few basic items, but after a few days he needed more. He ventured outside several times before deciding it was too dangerous.
He eventually fled with his family to Ras Emran where he would be able to continue to work as a fisherman. They left only with the clothes they were wearing. Now Suleiman works with other fishermen to make a living for this family, but finding work is not easy and he feels a stranger in Ras Emran. He hopes the war will end so he can return to his home and his children can live in peace and safety and go back to school to finish their education, like other children in the world.
Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun - 2019.
Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis live in displacement camps scattered across Iraq's northern Kurdistan region. In Bajid Kandela camp, white tents stand in long neat lanes, flanked by abandoned cars. Base Khalaf, 60, has been displaced with her family in this camp in Dohuk for four years. "Islamic State killed one of my sons four years ago. Since then I have been unable to visit his grave. It is very hard to go back to Sinjar. The situation is not safe and the journey is very long," she said.
"Our life in the camp is difficult. There is little water and electricity. The tents are dirty and made of nylon. They burn easily, especially in the summertime, and for an elderly and disabled person like me, it’s not easy to run. People have died because of this recently. Winter is coming now and so is the rain, the cold and the wind. These tents will barely protect us. I wish I could go back home, but it’s just not possible."
Photo: NRC/Tom Peyre-Costa - 2018
Roda was forced to leave her home with her children in search of food and water when drought in Somaliland (Somalia) killed her goats. “Our livelihood depends on livestock. We get milk from them and sell them to buy other necessities. The long drought has caused a lack of water and pasture," said Roda, whose story is shared by many families in the region.
Photo: NRC - 2018
Adrián leads the monitoring and analysis of events and trends of internal displacement in the context of conflicts and violence. He is specialised in conflict transformation and analysis, as well as international relations. He joined IDMC in 2017, prior to which he worked as a Service Improvement and Change Management consultant for various national and international bodies. He also worked in several African countries, such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the UNECA and the Life & Peace Institute, developing and implementing Monitoring and Evaluation models in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Adrián holds a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from the Spain School of Diplomacy, a Master’s degree in International Development from the Institut Catholique de Paris and an MBA from IE Business School (Madrid). He is fluent in Spanish, French and English.
Alexandra Bilak was appointed director of IDMC in 2016. She has extensive experience in research and policy development on displacement in the context of conflict and violence, disasters, climate change and development investments. As Director, Alexandra is responsible for the strategy, positioning and resource mobilisation of the organisation, and for growing its reach and influence. Her role includes; establishing high-level strategic partnerships with governments affected by internal displacement, UN agencies, regional organisations and other relevant stakeholders. She leads the IDMC team to provide high-quality data, analysis and expertise on internal displacement with a view to finding policy and programmatic approaches that offer real solutions to internally displaced people. Under her direction, IDMC also addresses the gap between prevention and risk reduction, humanitarian response, state-building and sustainable development.
Prior to her appointment as Director, Alexandra served as IDMC’s Head of Policy and Research from 2014-2016. During this time, she developed a new research agenda in line with the global 2030 policy agenda, and produced new analyses into the drivers, patterns and impacts of internal displacement in different country contexts. Since 2014, she has directed the publication of IDMC’s annual flagship reports; the Global Overview, Global Estimates and Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID).
Before joining IDMC, Alexandra served as Country Director and Programme Manager for several international NGOs and research institutes in sub-Saharan Africa; including Oxfam, the Life & Peace Institute, the International Rescue Committee and the Danish Refugee Council. She has accumulated fifteen years' experience living and working in conflict and post-conflict contexts, and has published extensively on the themes of forced displacement, conflict and civil society development. Alexandra lived and worked in Rwanda in 2001, the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2004 -2008, in Kenya from 2009 - 2014, and has worked extensively across Central, East and West Africa.
Alexandra 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. She is fluent in English and French.
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. He ended this role in December 2018.
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.
Ivana is a monitoring expert at IDMC, she focuses on monitoring and research on displacement in Syria and Iraq, and northern, eastern, western and central Africa. She joined IDMC in 2016, bringing experience in humanitarian needs and conflict analysis. She has background in humanitarian and human rights law and she previously worked on humanitarian needs analysis and assessment, and human rights advocacy with national as well as international NGOs.
Ivana holds Master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action from Sciences Po Paris and spent one semester studying international law and history of violence at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
Ivana is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Czech. She can also communicate in Arabic.
Sylvain had worked as Information Specialist for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for almost 13 years, where he was involved in the development of global metrics for measuring the implementation of international frameworks, assessment reports, graphics production, data visualisation and data exchange. He also supported the development of software and capabilities for national accounting for disaster damage. Prior to this, he was a trainee in both the United Nations Environment Programme GRID-Geneva and the University of Geneva. He also worked in the private sector, writing environmental studies on stones extraction.
Sylvain is a geographer, holding a Master’s 2 degree “Interface Nature-Society” from the University Lyon 2. He speaks fluent 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.
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