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Internal Displacements Rising From Conflicts and Disasters


Disasters Internally Displaced More than 19 Million in 2015

A report recently released by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) indicated that 19.2 million people across the globe were internally displaced by disasters in 2015. This is more than double the amount of people displaced by conflict and violence in the same year -- 8.6 million.

The total number of displacements reached a staggering 27.8 million people, or nearly equivalent to the entire population of Nepal, which, according to statistics released by the United Nations in 2015 is approximately 28 million people. According to IDMC, the total number of 2015 displacements exceeded the "total populations of New York City, London, Paris, and Cairo combined."

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Grid 2016: Global Report on Internal Displacement

Majority of displacements occurred in the Asian region

The majority of those individuals displaced from disasters, a whopping 85 percent, were located in the Asian region, which includes the countries of India, China, Nepal, Philippines, Myanmar, Japan, and Indonesia. Chile also saw the displacement of 1 million people due to disasters that struck the nation. All told, 113 countries saw significant displacements from disasters in 2015.

Of these disaster displacements, the majority occurred in developing countries and were related to weather, while the remaining displacements occurred due to larger-scale geophysical hazards that were larger in scale, such as the Nepal Earthquake.

Tracking IDPs

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) differ from refugees, as these individuals stay inside the borders of their country. Reports of IDPs are gathered from affected nations, but data is becoming out-of-date for many of the nations with large number of displaced persons, especially in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Turkey.

Findings from the report also suggest that some nations are having difficulty tracking internal displacements, including births and deaths that occur during displacement, and data on protracted displacements. Data suggests that some protracted displacements have lasted almost twenty-six years, and include hundreds of thousands individuals.

The report also notes that displacements due to droughts or development projects are currently absent but need to be monitored because of the at-risk populations they affect. These at-risk populations include those in developing countries, indigenous populations, and the urban poor.

Drought bears closer watching

Drought bears closer watching, but is more difficult to determine because numbers must be separated from individuals who migrate voluntarily. The IDMC contends that drought displacements are likely to occur when "abnormal movement patterns indicate the breakdown of normal coping strategies under severely stressed conditions." Food scarcity also often results in conflicts over resources, further driving displacements.

Inclusive and Comprehensive Monitoring Still Needed

The IDMC strongly urged that "more comprehensive monitoring of displacement is needed to ensure that all IDPs, and people vulnerable to displacement, are included in efforts to respond to their needs and address longer-term development objectives."

In light of this, the IDMC has developed a grid indicating information needed that would create a better overall view of displacement, including the different phases of displacement, to help support better government policies and decision-making within affected nations. It is their hope that understanding will lead to the prevention of displaced persons through mitigation and preparedness efforts that allow long-term, viable solutions for IDPs.

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Grid 2016: Global Report on Internal Displacement

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.