Record number displaced by war, violence, natural disasters in 2015

Children play in floodwater near a camp for internally displaced people in the Dhanah area of the central province of ...
ALI OWIDHA/REUTERS

Children play in floodwater near a camp for internally displaced people in the Dhanah area of the central province of Marib, Yemen, April 30, 2016.

The number of people uprooted inside their own countries by war and violence hit a record 40.8 million in 2015, with Yemen recording the most cases of newly displaced citizens, an international aid group says.

Globally there were 8.6 million fresh cases of people fleeing conflict last year within borders, an average of 24,000 a day, according to an Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) report released on Wednesday.

More than half of those were in the Middle East.

Stranded refugees walk along a national motorway towards the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek town of Polykastro ...
YANNIS BEHRAKIS/REUTERS

Stranded refugees walk along a national motorway towards the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek town of Polykastro after ignoring warnings from Greek authorities that the border is shut, as hundreds of migrants set off on the country's main north-south motorway to Idomeni border crossing February 25,

Some 2.2 million people in Yemen, or 8 per cent of its population, were newly displaced in 2015, largely the result of Saudi-led air strikes and an economic blockade imposed on civilians, the report said.

IDMC said the number of people forced from their homes by conflict but staying in their own countries was twice those who have become refugees by crossing international borders.

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Children ride on the back of a truck loaded with water jerrycans at a camp for internally displaced people in the Dhanah ...
ALI OWIDHA/REUTERS

Children ride on the back of a truck loaded with water jerrycans at a camp for internally displaced people in the Dhanah area of the central province of Marib, Yemen.

"The world is in a tremendous displacement crisis that is relentlessly building year after year, and now too many places have the perfect storm of conflict and/or disasters," said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs IDMC.

"We have to find ways to protect people from these horrendous forces of both nature and the man-made ones."

The UN refugee agency has said the number of people forcibly displaced worldwide was likely to have "far surpassed" a record 60 million in 2015, including 20 million refugees, driven by the Syrian war and other drawn-out conflicts.

Nepal earthquake victims at Chuchepati displacement camp, a sprawling squalid displaced persons shelter.
Tom Van Cakenberghe

Nepal earthquake victims at Chuchepati displacement camp, a sprawling squalid displaced persons shelter.

The IDMC report said displacement in the Middle East and North Africa had "snowballed" since the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010 and the rise of the Islamic State militant group, which is waging war in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

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"What has really led to the spike we have seen most recently has been the attack on civilians - indiscriminate bombing and air strikes, across Syria but also Yemen," said Alexandra Bilak, IDMC's interim director. "People have nowhere to go."

Globally, there were 19.2 million new cases of people forced from their homes by natural disasters in 2015, the vast majority of them due to extreme weather such as storms and floods, IDMC said.

Refugees and migrants wait to be registered at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Novembre 2015.
ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS

Refugees and migrants wait to be registered at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Novembre 2015.

In Nepal alone, earthquakes in April and May uprooted 2.6 million people.

Egeland said many countries, such as Cuba, Vietnam and Bangladesh, had improved their record on preventing and preparing for natural disasters.

"But in Asia I would say, and to some extent Latin America, still too little is done to meet the growing strength of the forces of nature fuelled by climate change," he added.

The former UN aid chief urged this month's World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul to focus on building resilience to natural disasters, and finding ways to avert conflicts and protect civilians in war.

 

 - AAP

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