Internal to cross-border displacement

Research agenda

The vast majority of people who flee their homes to escape conflict, violence and disasters do not cross an international border. Of the 70.8 million people forcibly displaced around the world, 50.8 million are internally displaced people. They are the invisible majority.

The relationship between internal displacement and movements of refugees and migrants is not well understood. This is a major knowledge gap which we want to address. In the coming years, we will seek to build an evidence base painting a more quantitative and qualitative picture of the entire displacement continuum, from the drivers of onward movement across borders to return to countries of origin.

Download the research agenda (PDF, 0.5MB) in French, Spanish or Arabic. Click on read more for the English version.

Latest publication

The twentieth of June is World Refugee Day, dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees. There are nearly twice as many internally displaced people (IDPs) as there are refugees, but there is no International Day of Internal Displacement. 

To bring attention to the invisible majority of displaced people, IDMC is investigating the relationship between internal displacement and cross-border movement. We do not know how many refugees were internally displaced previously, or how many refugees and migrants become displaced when they return to their country of origin. This is a major knowledge gap which IDMC is seeking to address by painting a more comprehensive picture of the entire displacement continuum through in-depth primary research. 

This report is based on the results of seven studies conducted in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen between 2018 and 2019. In doing these studies, we conducted more than 1,470 survey interviews with IDPs, refugees and returning refugees, complementing our findings with qualitative data shared by research participants and key informants. 

Research lead

Chloe Sydney

We are always looking to strengthen and expand partnerships. If you are interested in working with us, please contact

Have a look at our other research areas here