Sudan IDP Figures Analysis

As of 5 January 2015, IDMC estimates that there were up to 3,100,000 IDPs in Sudan. This includes figures in the region of Darfur and the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.


The total number of IDPs in Sudan has decreased significantly from a peak of around five million in 2010. This is due both to large-scale movement of southern Sudanese to South Sudan and the fact that former southern Sudanese IDPs, especially in and around Khartoum, were no longer counted as IDPs in Sudan. However, since 2011, the number of IDPs has been steadily increasing.

Neither the figure for Sudan nor South Sudan includes IDPs from the Abyei Area as its final status remains undetermined. More than 100,000 people were displaced following an incursion by the Sudanese armed forces in May 2011. No new displacements were registered in 2014. 45,000 Ngok Dinka from Abyei remain displaced, of whom 20,000 are in Abyei.

Public IDP figures for Sudan are compiled and published by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan. In Darfur, OCHA receives information on IDP figures from local authorities, the government, other UN agencies and international and national NGOs. The methodologies used by these actors also include biometric registration of IDPs in camps by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the figures published by OCHA are provided by the government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in government-controlled areas and in opposition-controlled areas by the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA, the humanitarian wing of the SPLM-N) and sometimes also by the independent South Kordofan and Blue Nile Coordination Unit (SKBNCU), which works with local civil society and international humanitarian actors to monitor displacement and humanitarian conditions.

There is little or no data on IDPs living in towns and cities. This constitutes a further obstacle in providing a comprehensive view of displacement in the country. This is significant because it is thought that very large numbers of IDPs have fled to urban areas, contributing to the Sudan’s accelerating urbanisation.

In addition to the lack of data collection on IDPs in cities, there is also a data gap in eastern Sudan and other areas where ethnic tensions exist but where the scale of forced displacement remains unknown.

Although IDMC’s estimate provides a sense of the scale of displacement in some areas of Sudan, it is not a comprehensive figure. The collection of good quality data on internal displacement is particularly challenging in Sudan, given the lack of access to affected areas and the piecemeal and fragmented nature of data that does exist, differing definitions and methodologies and political manipulation of displacement data by authorities. IDMC, like others, is unable to verify displacement data.

The lack of good quality data makes it difficult to make an accurate assessment of IDPs’ needs and the delivery of assistance. The absence of disaggregated data, except for cases where biometric registration has taken place, makes protection and vulnerability analysis within these groups all but impossible. There is little data with which to evaluate IDPs’ progress towards achieving durable solutions.. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is the only agency reporting figures on verified returns but its figures are not uncontested by other humanitarians. There is no information on failed returns or secondary displacement. Little is known about IDPs who live in informal settlements, with host families or in urban settings.

Data on displacement caused by natural disasters and development is no better, and as such there is very little information on the scope of, or response to, either phenomenon. In 2013, at least 319,700 people were internally displaced because of flooding in 15 states, exceeding the total of 238,000 for the period 2008-2012. Food insecurity and seasonal drought are also thought to contribute to population movements, but here again no data is available. As of August 2014, floods had already displaced at least 82,400 people.

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.