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Expert Opinion

IDMC's 2019: A year in review


Video: 2020 - A decade to make a difference

2019 has seen tens of millions of people newly displaced within their own countries. At the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, we have reported new cases of conflict-related displacement in some 70 countries, and disaster-related displacement in 140.

While many of the answers to internal displacement are political, other answers are practical, and lie in the combination of good data and analysis, and good policy and programming.

This year we have continued to support Governments, UN agencies, civil society and IDP communities to meet the challenge of preventing, responding to and finding solutions to internal displacement.

We believe that neither IDMC nor this issue should be seen solely through the lens of numbers, however powerful or alarming those numbers may be. Every internally displaced person is a human being with a unique life story, and understanding the specific risks and vulnerabilities that come from being displaced has to remain our priority.

I saw this vulnerability up close several times this year – and with it, great courage and resilience.

Alexandra Bilak, Director IDMC, in conversation with a group of IDPs
Meeting with IDP's in Mexico in 2019

In February, I met with families who had lost their homes to coastal erosion in Bangladesh and who are now making a living in Dhaka’s slums.

In July, I witnessed the bravery of young Mexican women evicted from their lands by paramilitary groups, who are determined to claim it back and to go home.

In November, I visited North-East Nigeria and talked to some of the 2 million IDPs in Borno State who have been driven from their homes by Boko Haram. This photo essay tells a small part of this story.

Video: A displacement disaster - The situation in Nigeria, November 2019

Throughout these visits I have also exchanged extensively with Governments, UN and civil society partners. It is a real privilege to be able to work alongside each and every one of them in this massive collective task.

Our global monitoring and data remain our bedrock. In 2019 we were systematic in measuring the durability of the IDP returns reported to us across various conflict contexts. We developed a new methodology for monitoring drought displacement, as well as the relationship between internal and cross-border displacement. We also launched new data partnerships with the ISI (Institute for Scientific Interchange) Foundation, with ETH-Zürich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and MeteoSwiss.

A world map with displacement activity shown over time
A world map of internal displacement activity in 2019

It is the task of our policy and research team to interpret the data, and to point Governments towards solutions. We have carried out primary research in 15 countries, and in 2019 published some 40 new pieces of work. We broke new ground in researching the impacts of displacement on children, and the impacts of internal displacement on economic growth, both globally and in Africa. We put the bare minimum costs at USD 13 billion and 4 billion respectively.

We also merged our communications and fundraising functions and created a new External Relations department, and established an Advisory Group which met for the first time in October.

We received new financial contributions from the US, German, Australian and Swedish Governments, and were selected by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, EU-DEVCO, to lead a EUR 3 million project to support 21 Pacific small island states to prepare for disaster related displacement.

The launch of our Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) in Geneva in May was notable for new research on urban internal displacement, and the screening of a feature debate on internal displacement on Al Jazeera. This year, for the first time, the GRID was translated into Arabic, French and Spanish, and was also launched in the Middle East (Doha), and Latin America (Mexico). We also issued a regional report on displacement in Africa, which was featured in Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report.

Our second annual conference in Geneva in October – The road to 2030: finding solutions to internal displacement – was another landmark event, assembling some 200 people from government, UN agencies, civil society and academia. It is already established as one of the most influential global fora on internal displacement.

Video: Highlights, IDMC conference 2019

We continued to host Displacement Dialogues during the year, bringing some 20 ambassadors together in Geneva to discuss responses to their own and the world's displacement challenges.

We have also worked towards establishing new country-level partnerships in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, as well as Mexico, and a number of Pacific Island states. These partnerships are designed to offer support in data collection and analysis, risk assessments and policy formulation.

Video: The worst drought for 30 years - Internal displacement in Ethiopia

It is an honour for me, on behalf of IDMC, to join the expert advisory group that will support the new UN High Level Panel on Internal Displacement in 2020. The Panel is proof that the issue of internal displacement is at the forefront of global debates on human mobility.

2020 will be another year in which our primary task will be to deliver high quality data to inform global debate and action on internal displacement. It will also be the year in which we look forward to 2030, aligning our own goals with those of the Sustainable Development Agenda as we develop our new 10-year strategy.

We send our warm thanks to all of you who have stood by us and supported our work over the years. None of our achievements in 2019 would have been possible without your generous and loyal support.

On behalf of the IDMC team, I wish you happy and restful holidays.

The IDMC team
The IDMC team at a team retreat