Mid-Year Figures 2019


Mid-year figures cover

IDMC’s mid-year figures reveal the most significant new internal displacements associated with conflict, violence and disasters around the world between January and June 2019. The report serves as an important temperature gauge of global displacement halfway through the year, looking ahead to the trends and patterns expected in the months to come.

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There were about 10.8 million new displacements worldwide in the first half of 2019, seven million triggered by disasters – the highest mid-year figure IDMC has ever recorded - and 3.8 million by conflict and violence. Extreme weather events, particularly storms and floods, were responsible for most of the disaster displacement. Cyclone Fani and cyclone Idai triggered more than four million displacements between them and devastating floods in Iran affected 90 per cent of the country. Fragmented international peace efforts mean that overwhelmingly high numbers continue to be displaced in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya. Persistent instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria has left space for localised violence to take hold. And displacement has spiked in porous border areas of West Africa where intercommunal violence has been reignited.

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Disaster displacement trends and projections

Based on a decade of historical data and given what we know about the seasonality of weather-related disasters, we can estimate the number of people we expect to be displaced by the end of 2019; around 22 million, making 2019 an above average year. Find out more about how we built this projection in the report.

Highlight: West Africa

Mid Year Figures 2019 highlight - West Africa

Border areas between central Mali, northern Burkina Faso and southwestern Niger have been plagued by violence since 2018 that has its roots in the activities of several local but globally oriented jihadist groups. Militants contained in northern Mali in 2012 have gained ground across the region by recruiting from the Fulani community, pastoralists who have been marginalised by governments and development programmes that favour agriculture. This situation has spawned a growing number of “self-defence” militias, and as the violence spirals out of control, armed groups have burned homes, destroyed the livelihoods of whole communities, laid siege to villages and perpetrated severe human rights violations.

More than 140,000 new displacements were recorded in Mali in the first half of 2019, a higher figure than for the whole of 2018, and more than 170,000 in Burkina Faso, the highest figure ever reported. In Niger, 42,000 new displacements were recorded, which represents more than 80 per cent of the total for the whole of 2018. As the security situation deteriorates, the governments face the difficult task of protecting and assisting those displaced, and helping them to achieve durable solutions to their displacement but, as of today, most are afraid to return home because of the prevalent insecurity and scarce resources.


Highlight: Libya

Conflict in Libya escalated significantly in the first half of 2019, triggering 137,000 new displacements, the highest figure since the start of the civil war in 2014. Political power has been split between two rival governments: GNA, which is based in the north-west with Tripoli as its capital; and LNA, which holds eastern parts of the country with Tobruk as its capital. Just before a planned national reconciliation conference in Tripoli in April this year, LNA launched an offensive to wrest control of the capital and the northwest of the country. Heavy fighting broke out south of Tripoli, marking a new phase in Libya’s conflict and the worst violence since 2014.

Almost half of those displaced were under 18. Most sought shelter with host families in more secure neighbourhoods of the capital, the Nafusa mountains and various locations along the north-west coast. The fighting also severely affected migrants and asylum seekers in detention centres near the frontlines. The presence of combatants along major trade routes obstructed the transport of food and other key goods, and access to electricity, cash and health services was disrupted. The conflict showed no signs of abating as of the end of July, with attacks on the only functional airport in the Tripoli area and both sides still believing they are able to achieve their objectives by military force.

Mid Year Figures 2019 highlight -  Libya


Highlight: Iran

Mid Year Figures 2019 highlight - Iran

Some of the worst flooding in Iran for 15 years triggered around 500,000 new displacements between mid-March and the end of April. Some provinces are thought to have received almost a year’s rainfall in 24 hours. At the peak of the flooding more than 10 million people in 2,000 towns and cities across nearly 90 per cent of the country were affected and large areas of agricultural land and crops were damaged or destroyed. Those displaced sought refuge with relatives and friends, or in collective shelters such as schools and sport clubs.

The severity of the floods is likely to have been the result of a combination of natural and human factors. Rampant deforestation and poorly planned urbanisation, particularly near rivers, has also increased the number of people exposed. The floods, which developed rapidly after a long drought, caught the authorities and the public by surprise and it's thought that the lack of adequate response meant the impacts of the disaster were worse than they needed to be. 

Full recovery will be slow. Around 269,000 people were still displaced two months after the emergency. The government has promised to compensate flood victims for their losses, but the cost of the damage has been put at more than $2.5 billion and Iran’s economy is already struggling under the weight of international sanctions. The ability to prevent, manage and respond to such events in the future will rely on the collective efforts of different sectors, from urban planning to civil engineering, and from local authorities to central government.


Highlight: Americas

Flooding in the Amazon and Rio de la Plata basins triggered 389,000 new displacements in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in the first half of 2019. The unusually heavy rains in Bolivia and Paraguay were linked to El Niño. There have been a number of extreme hydrological events along the Amazon river and some of its tributaries over the past decade, punctuated by worsening droughts. Changes in land use, such as deforestation and the construction of hydroelectric dams, may also contribute to the severity of flooding.

Heavy rains and floods triggered more than 237,000 new displacements in Brazil. Floods in Bolivia triggered around 73,000 new displacements between January and April. Some reports suggest that the area flooded in Amazonas was among the largest on record. Thousands of families were evacuated to collective centres as the floods damaged crops, homes and water and sanitation infrastructure. Flooding in the Chaco region of Argentina was described as the worst in 30 years. Paraguay’s national emergency secretariat reported atypical flooding of the Paraguay river between 15 March and 8 May following months of torrential rain. Around 57,000 new displacements were recorded across seven of the country’s 17 departments between January and April, of which 90 per cent took place in Distrito Capital. The floodwaters were still to recede as of July, meaning that many families may not be able to return to their homes until the end of the year.

*Marengo et al 2018, Nobre and Borma 2009  Displacement data was published by different national organozations such as disaster management agencies and the Red Cross national societies. Basins dataset  (Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis, n.d.) 
Mid Year Figures 2019 highlight - Americas


Download the report

The mid-year figures reveal the most significant new internal displacements associated with conflict, violence and disasters between January – June 2019. 

Download report (PDF | 2.85 MB)

Find a summary of international media coverage highlights in this annex.