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.


Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

Updated 21 September 2019

Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

  • Britain says a deal is possible
  • Ireland says not close to a deal

LONDON/BRUSSELS : Britain said on Friday a Brexit deal with the European Union could be reached at a summit next month, but EU member Ireland said the sides were far from agreement and London had not yet made serious proposals.
Three years after Britons voted to leave the EU, hopes of a breakthrough over the terms of its departure have been stoked in recent days by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the shape of a deal is emerging and European Commission President Juncker saying agreement is possible.
But diplomats say the two sides are split over London’s desire to remove the Irish border “backstop” from the divorce deal struck by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and then work out a replacement in coming years.
The backstop is an insurance policy to keep the 500-km (300-mile) border between Ireland, which will remain in the EU, and the British province of Northern Ireland open after Brexit.
“We both want to see a deal,” British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said after talks in Brussels with EU negotiator Michel Barnier. “The meeting overran, which signals we were getting into the detail.”
“There is a still a lot of work to do but there is a common purpose to secure a deal,” Barclay said, adding that Juncker and Johnson also both wanted a deal.
Leaving the EU would be Britain’s biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years and deprive the 28-nation bloc of one of its biggest economies. The EU has set a deadline for a deal to be reached by Oct. 31.
British parliament has rejected the deal May agreed with the EU. Johnson has said he wants to secure an amended deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18 but that Britain will leave the bloc if that is not possible. He will meet European Council Donald Tusk at the United Nations in New York next week.
Ireland is crucial to any Brexit solution. Unless the Irish border backstop is removed or amended, Johnson will not be able to win parliamentary approval but Ireland and the EU are unwilling to sign a deal without a solution to the border.
The EU fears a hard border could cause unrest in Northern Ireland and undermine the fragile peace provided by a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence between Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland, and the British security forces and pro-British “unionists.”
The Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed with the EU last November says the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union “unless and until” alternative arrangements are found to avoid the return of border controls in Ireland.
The British government, worried the backstop will trap it in the EU’s orbit for years to come, wants to remove it and find a solution before December 2020, when a planned transition period ends.
The British pound fell from a two-month high after the Financial Times reported Johnson had told colleagues he did not expect to reach a full “legally operable” deal next month.
One EU official said Britain’s proposals are not enough to replace the backstop.
“As it stands, it is unacceptable,” the official said. “If they don’t really change their approach, we are at an impasse.”
The European Commission said in a memo that Britain’s plans “fall short of satisfying all the objectives” of finding an alternative to the backstop, Sky News reported.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the mood music had improved and that both sides wanted a deal but that they were not close to an agreement.
“There is certainly a lot of commentary now and some of it is spin I think, in the context of where we are,” he told the BBC. “We need to be honest with people and say that we’re not close to that deal right now.”
“Everybody needs a dose of reality here, there is still quite a wide gap between what the British government have been talking about in terms of the solutions that they are proposing, and I think what Ireland and the EU will be able to support.”
Britain said on Thursday it had shared documents with Brussels setting out ideas for a Brexit deal, but an EU diplomat described them as a “smokescreen” that would not prevent a disorderly exit on the Oct. 31 departure date.
Coveney, Ireland’s second most powerful politician, said a no-deal could lead to civil unrest.
“Trade across 300 road crossings that has created a normality and a peace that is settled on the island of Ireland for the last 20 years, that now faces significant disruption,” he said. “That is what we’re fighting for here.