Up to 55 million people have lived as displaced during 2020. This figure represents more than double the number of refugees in the world. “The scale of displacement globally is increasing, and most of it takes place within country borders ,” explains the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).
Alexandra Bilak , Director of IDMC, points to several reasons why displacement figures have grown in the last year. “The covid spread rapidly around the world, rising temperatures have caused unprecedented storms and the violence continued despite calls to unite against the virus,” he says. These population movements occur mainly in low-income countries and “suffer the effects of inequality .”
Raouf Mazou , Secretary General of UNHCR has wanted to emphasize that displacement is one of the ” most urgent humanitarian challenges ” that there are today, especially those caused by climatic catastrophes . Natural disasters and violence have been the triggers for 40.5 million displacements, the highest figure in the last decade . As Bilak explains, this year’s report has focused primarily on climate catastrophes.
“Disasters, especially those related to climate, caused three times more displacement than conflicts and violence in 2020,” notes the IDMC. The majority of global disaster displacement in 2020 took place in the East Asia and Pacific region . This is the case, for example, of Cyclone Amphan , which caused 5 million people to leave their homes in Bangladesh , Bhutan , India and Burma .
This type of internal displacement is considered by many as short-term displacements , however, these tend to be of a prolonged nature over time .
The UN agency has insisted that these problems can also cause internal conflicts in “fragile” countries causing even more population movements, as is already happening in the Sahel . This means that “their chances of returning home as a solution to their situation also decrease”, as Mazou emphasizes.
Conflicts and violence
Most of the new displacement caused by conflict and violence in 2020 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa . As for the countries with the highest number of displaced people for this reason, they are once again the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria and Ethiopia, as in previous years. However, 95% of these movements took place in ” countries vulnerable to the impact of climate change”.
The organization emphasizes that 23 million minors have had to move within their national territory, something that directly impacts the education of these children. Furthermore, displacement does not only affect those who experience it, but also has an impact on the global economy .
IDMC indicates that last year the economic impact was 20.5 billion dollars (almost 17 billion euros). In Somalia , this situation represents around 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We must focus on reducing risks and supporting those who move, regardless of the barriers they face, and counteract the idea that disasters are natural,” claims the organization.