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Expert Opinion

Global conflict displacement at 18-year high

45.2 million people in the world were uprooted due to conflict at the end of 2012.

This shocking figure underlies the millions of lives around the world that have been forever impacted by violence and war.

IDMC reported in April that the number of people internally displaced worldwide due to conflict and violence was at its highest ever reported, at 28.8 million. This staggering figure represents the bulk of the displacement worldwide, as compared to 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 3.3 million people under UNHCR’s statelessness mandate, as reported by UNHCR.

UNHCR has not reported such high figures since 1994, the year the Rwanda genocide began, the furnace of the Bosnian War was raging, and the effects of events in north and south Caucasus were still being felt. Yet still in 2012, conflicts in Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali have left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance – leaving those tasked to respond with an ever moving target.

With 1.1 million new refugees registered in 2012 adding to some 6.5 million people newly displaced inside their own countries by conflict and violence, new emergencies and on-going conflicts in recent years have proven that conflict displacement remains a feature of today’s world.  The 2012 figures of 2.4 million people newly displaced in Syria and 647,000 new Syrian refugees, mostly in neighbouring countries, concretes the place of the situation in Syria as last year’s biggest and fastest evolving displacement crisis.

Neither UNHCR’s figures nor IDMC’s include the climbing number of people newly displaced in and outside of Syria since the beginning of 2013.

Learn more about UNHCR’s 2012 Global Trends report
Learn more about IDMC’s 2012 Global Overview of people internally displaced by conflict and violence