With 2.8 million persons displaced internally in 2016, India had the third-highest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs)--people forced to flee their homes within the confines of their own countries--according to a FactChecker analysis of the 2017 Global Report on Internal Displacement by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
Last year, world over, 31.3 million persons were internally displaced by conflict, violence, and disasters--this is the equivalent of one person forced to flee every second in 2016, the IDMC report said.
Of those who were forced to flee in 2016, 23.6 million persons were internally displaced by disasters, and 6.9 million by conflict and violence.
While in absolute terms, China (7.4 million), Philippines (6.2 million) and India (2.8 million) reported the highest number of IDPs, when accounting for displacement relative to population size, the worst affected countries were small low-lying and coastal countries of Fiji, Haiti, Cuba etc., with 76,000, 180,000 and 1.07 million displaced people, respectively. The Philippines saw high levels of displacement both in absolute terms and relative to population size.
In 2016, Bihar floods caused most internal displacement in India
With 2.4 million persons displaced internally due to disasters, India accounted for two-thirds of 3.6 million IDPs in South Asia, IDMC data showed. Most of these were associated with monsoon floods in Bihar--the fourth largest disaster displacement in the world last year, with more than 1.6 million displacements between mid-July and October, the report showed.
Among countries reporting internal displacement due to armed conflict, India, with 448,000 IDPs, ranked seventh in the world.
More internally displaced people than refugees in the world
As of 2016, 40.3 million people were living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence over the years, data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, show. This includes those displaced in 2016 or before 2016 but still living away from their homes. “This number has nearly doubled since 2000 and has increased sharply over the last five years,” the IDMC report said.
“There are currently twice as many IDPs as refugees in the world. Despite its global scale, the issue of internal displacement remains largely overshadowed, particularly with the current global focus and public attention on refugees and migrants,” said the IDMC in part two of its report, Off the GRID: Are today’s IDPs tomorrow’s refugees and migrants? At the end of 2015, there were 21.3 million refugees globally, according to UNHCR data.
Low- and lower-middle income countries bear the brunt of internal displacement every year, the report said. “The majority of new displacements in 2016 took place in high-risk environments characterised by low coping capacity, high levels of socio-economic vulnerability, and high exposure to natural and human made hazards.”
(Saldanha is an assistant editor with IndiaSpend & FactChecker.)