LONDON: More people were internally displaced in Syria than any other country in 2020, according to figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
The war-torn country saw 6.6 million displaced due to conflict. A report by the IDMC found that displacements caused by conflict last year were mostly focused around “persisting levels of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Syria and Ethiopia.”
After Syria, the countries with the most internally displaced persons (IDPs) through conflict were the DRC (5.3 million) and Colombia (4.9 million).
The IDMC’s data revealed that the number of IDPs worldwide hit the highest level on record, with at least 55 million by the end of last year.
There were more than twice as many people displaced within their own country as forced out of their country as refugees, the IDMC added.
The figure is the highest on record, with 5 million more people displaced than in 2019. The number has been rising steadily over the past decade.
Some 48 million people were uprooted due to conflict and violence, while 7 million were displaced by natural disasters, with 2020 the warmest year on record.
The IDMC said incomplete data meant that the number of IDPs caused by climate disasters was underestimated.
“Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and violence,” the report said.
“Disasters and the effects of climate change regularly trigger new and secondary displacement, undermining people’s security and wellbeing,” it added.
“The scale of displacement worldwide is increasing, and most of it is happening within countries’ borders.”
IDMC Director Alexandra Bilak said: “It is particularly concerning that these high figures were recorded against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, when movement restrictions obstructed data collection and fewer people sought out emergency shelters for fear of infection.”
She added: “In a world made more fragile by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustained political will and investment in locally owned solutions will be more important than ever.”
The Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary-General Jan Egeland said: “It is shocking that someone was forced to flee their home inside their own country every single second last year. We are failing to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from conflict and disasters.”