Ten million people displaced internally by conflict in 2018

Syrian children react as they leave their home following reported regime shelling on Hama and Idlib provinces, on May 1, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 10 May 2019
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Ten million people displaced internally by conflict in 2018

  • The new figure brings the total number of people currently living in internal displacement due to violence to 41.3 million
  • On top of those forced from their homes by violence, 17.2 million people were internally displaced by natural disasters last year

GENEVA: Conflict forced more than 10 million people to flee their homes to live elsewhere within their own country last year, bringing the total number of people internally displaced by violence to a record high, monitors said Friday.
The new figure brings the total number of people currently living in internal displacement due to violence to 41.3 million, an all-time high, according to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
"It is really a mind-boggling figure," NRC chief Jan Egeland told reporters in Geneva.
"It takes extreme violence and fear of disasters to force a family out of their home, their land, their property, their community," he stressed.
Including those uprooted from their homes by natural disasters as well as conflicts, a total of 28 million people were displaced internally in 2018, the report said.
A full 10.8 million of new internally displaced people (IDPs) last year were fleeing conflict, with strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria, as well as intercommunal tensions in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria responsible for most of the displacements, the study said.
The number of people currently living as IDPs is far higher than the some 25 million who have fled across borders as refugees.
Surprisingly perhaps, the report found that the highest number of new internal displacements last year was in Ethiopia, with a full 2.9 million people fleeing their homes inside the East African country, where communal clashes, typically sparked by land disputes, are common.
Strife-torn DRC came in second, with 1.8 million fresh IDPs in 2018, followed by Syria with 1.6 million new internal displacements.
But in total, Syria, ravaged by eight years of war, counts 6.1 million IDPs, in addition to around the same number of Syrians still living as refugees.
On top of those forced from their homes by violence, 17.2 million people were internally displaced by natural disasters last year, Friday's report found.
Tropical cyclones and monsoon floods forced nearly 10 million to flee inside the Philippines, China and India.
IDMC chief Alexandra Bilak told reporters that most of those displacements were linked to government-orchestrated evacuations ahead of natural disasters.
"This of course saves lives, but demonstrates that there are still too many people in those countries who are exposed to extreme events," she said.
Hundreds of thousands of people were also forced from their homes in California last year by the most destructive wildfires in the state's history.
Some 22,000 people remain displaced by those fires, Bilak said.


Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

Updated 4 min 47 sec ago
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Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

  • Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles
  • The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election

GAZA CITY: Israel announced Tuesday it had eased fishing restrictions off the blockaded Gaza Strip after a cease-fire with Hamas ended a deadly escalation earlier this month.
Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles, said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election.
Gaza fishing union official, Zakaria Bakr, however told AFP on Tuesday morning it had yet to be informed of any changes.
COGAT did not provide further details, but in April the limit was set at six nautical miles in the north near the Israeli border, 12 off central Gaza and 15 in the south near the Egyptian border, according to the fishing union.
Israel banned fishing completely when the two-day flare-up of violence began earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following the truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit is the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities did not say the move was linked to the truce reached earlier this month with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian officials said at the time of the May 6 cease-fire that it included Israel taking steps to ease its blockade.
Israel media reported late Monday that the cease-fire, brokered by Egyptian and UN officials, is a six-month deal that includes the expansion of the fishing zone as well as the transfer of medicines and other aid to Gaza.
Negotiations are to also take place on issues including Gaza’s severe electricity shortage and border crossings, the reports said.
In return, Hamas would calm protests along the border and halt maritime demonstrations aimed at breaking the blockade.
Hamas denied the reports and Israel did not immediately comment.