Record 38 million people internally displaced by conflicts

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Updated 07 May 2015
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Record 38 million people internally displaced by conflicts

GENEVA: Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people inside their own countries, equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.
Nearly one third of them — a full 11 million people — were displaced last year alone, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing their homes every day, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) said in a report.
“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signalling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council which is behind the IDMC.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) is a label given to people who remain in their homeland, as opposed to refugees, who flee across borders.
Today there are nearly twice as many IDPs in the world as refugees, the IDMC report said, without providing an exact figure for refugees.
According to UN statistics, some 16.7 million people were living as refugees worldwide at the end of 2013.
The numbers of people internally displaced last year meanwhile marked a 14-percent rise over the year before and dwarfed figures seen at the peak of the Darfur crisis in 2004, the spiralling violence in Iraq in the mid-2000s, or in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the IDMC said.
“This report should be a tremendous wake-up call,” Egeland said.
“We must break this trend where millions of men, women and children are becoming trapped in conflict zones around the world,” he added.

Iraq hardest hit
A full 60 percent of newly displaced people last year were in just five countries: Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
Iraq was the hardest hit, with 2.2 million people forced to flee inside the country from areas seized by the brutal Islamic State group.
The IS jihadists also added to the horrors forcing people to leave their homes in civil war-ravaged Syria.
Around one million more people were internally displaced in Syria last year, bringing the total number of IDPs there to 7.6 million, or 40 percent of the population.
Ukraine meanwhile appeared in IDMC’s report for the first time, with 646,500 people internally displaced there in 2014 as the country was engulfed by fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Kiev forces.


Exiled Afghan Vice President Dostum due to return home on Sunday

Updated 41 sec ago
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Exiled Afghan Vice President Dostum due to return home on Sunday

  • Dostum would return home on a chartered aircraft
  • Accusations against him would be handled independently by the courts

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who left the country last year amid allegations of sexual abuse and torture, will return home on Sunday after more than a year in exile and resume his duties, officials said.
Government spokesman Haroon Chakansuri confirmed on Saturday that Dostum would return home on a chartered aircraft on Sunday and would be given an official reception. Accusations against him would be handled independently by the courts, he said.
“Legal issues are a matter for judicial authorities,” the spokesman told a news conference in Kabul.
The return of Dostum followed days of sometimes violent protests by supporters in northern Afghanistan over the arrest of a militia commander loyal to him. Officials said that negotiations for the return have been going on for weeks.
Chakansuri also said the commander, Nizamuddin Qaisari, who was arrested after a violent dispute with security officials in the northern province of Faryab, would stay in prison pending an investigation, while other militia commanders accused of abuses would be pursued.
Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek veteran of decades of Afghanistan’s bloody politics, faced outrage from Western donor countries including the United States after reports in 2016 that his guards had seized Ahmad Eshchi, a political rival and subjected him to beatings, torture and violent sexual abuse.
He denied Eshchi’s accusations but amid international demands that he be held accountable, he left the country in May last year, ostensibly to seek medical treatment in Turkey and has not returned since.
Once described by the US State Department as a “quintessential warlord” Dostum has for years faced accusations of serious human rights abuses, including killing Taliban prisoners by leaving them in sealed cargo containers.
He joined President Ashraf Ghani in the disputed 2014 elections, helping to deliver support from the ethnic Uzbek community in northern Afghanistan and his return from exile comes ahead of the next presidential election in early 2019.
Dostum’s expected return adds to an already volatile mix ahead of separate parliamentary elections in October that are seen as a dry run for the more important presidential elections next year.
Protesters calling for his return closed a number of voter registration offices and threatened to disrupt the parliamentary ballot, seen as a key test of Afghanistan’s political stability.
While in exile, he formed a loose coalition with Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful former governor of Balkh province with wide support among ethnic Tajiks as well as Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the Hazara minority.