Number of internally displaced people hit record 75.9 million in 2023

Report says 7.7 million displaced by disasters and 68.3 million by conflict and violence last year, with Sudan and Gaza wars pushing numbers to new heights.

Palestinian who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip ride with their belongings in the back of a truck
In the Gaza Strip, 1.7 million Palestinians were internally displaced at the end of 2023 [File: AFP]

The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) around the globe hit a record 75.9 million in 2023, an NGO monitor has found.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in a report released on Tuesday that 7.7 million people were displaced by disasters and 68.3 million by conflict and violence. The wars in Sudan and Gaza pushed the numbers to the new record.

INTERACTIVE - 76m internally displaced people worldwide-1715676137
(Al Jazeera)

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen alarming new levels of people having to flee their homes due to conflict and violence, even in regions where the trend had been improving,” IDMC director Alexandra Bilak said.

“Conflict, and the devastation it leaves behind, is keeping millions from rebuilding their lives, often for years on end.”

While refugees are those who have fled abroad, internal displacement refers to the forced movement of people within the country in which they live.

The end-of-year record was a significant increase from 71.1 million recorded at the end of 2022.

Over the last five years, the figure increased by more than 50 percent, the IDMC said.

Conflict-driven

The number of IDPs resulting from conflict increased by 22.6 million last year, with the two biggest increases in 2022 and 2023.

Sudan has the highest number of IDPs recorded for a single country since records began in 2008, the monitor said, with an estimated 9.1 million people displaced. Almost half of all IDPs live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fighting in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Palestinian territory accounted for nearly two-thirds of new movements of people due to conflict in 2023.

In the Gaza Strip, 1.7 million Palestinians were internally displaced by the end of 2023, after Israel launched a war following an attack by Hamas on October 7.

The monitor, which also keeps track of each new forced movement of a person within their borders, said there were 3.4 million new movements as people were displaced several times over in the enclave.

Of the 26.4 million forced movements due to disasters, a third were in China and Turkey as a result of severe weather events and strong earthquakes.

The report warned that displacement often lasts for long periods due to infrastructure damage and institutional disruption.

In Syria, the number of internally displaced people reached a peak of 7.6 million in 2014. However, the number still stood at 7.2 million last year, despite a significant reduction in violence.

The IDMC was created by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998. Jan Egeland, NRC’s chief, said the monitor had never recorded so many people forced away from their homes and communities.

“It is a damning verdict on the failures of conflict prevention and peace-making,” Egeland said. “The lack of protection and assistance that millions endure cannot be allowed to continue.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies