News / Africa

2012 Sees Record Number of IDPs

A view shows debris along a street of damaged buildings by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs, Apr. 8, 2013.
A view shows debris along a street of damaged buildings by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs, Apr. 8, 2013.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on internally displaced people

Joe DeCapua
The number of people displaced within their own countries by armed conflict, violence and human rights violations totaled nearly 30-million in 2012. Many of the newly displaced were in Syria and the eastern Congo.


Clare Spurrell of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center said there were record numbers of IDPs, or internally displaced people, last year.

“This last year we saw 28.8 million people who are now internally displaced as a consequence of conflict. This is an increase of two-point-four-million compared to the previous year. And much of this dramatic increase is due to the numbers of people who were newly displaced during the year. So here we saw six-point-five-million people newly displaced, which is an increase of almost 50-percent as compared to 2011, the previous year,” she said.

The final displacement figure is determined by adding the number of newly displaced in 2012 to the 2011 total -- and then subtracting the millions who actually returned home last year.

Spurrell said that there were different reasons for people being newly displaced in 2011 compared to 2012.

“In 2011, it was very much the Arab Spring uprising and the post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire, which caused a lot of the new displacement that year. This last year we’ve seen the new displacement caused by the escalating violence in eastern DRC and of course the on-going conflict in Syria, which caused really the majority of new displacement.”

Spurrell described Syria as the “fastest evolving internal displacement crisis in the world.”

“The acceleration is very much due to the fluidity of the conflict and the fact that there’s very much a lack of clear front lines and the subsequent close relationship between internal displacement and the conflict hotspots,” she said.

In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, there were one-million newly internally displaced people in 2012. But there are many people in the region who’ve been displaced for quite some time. Overall, there are nearly three-million internally displaced people there.

“These are people who have faced really multiple displacements at the hands of a variety of armed groups within a context of where there’s very much generalized insecurity within the country and a very much weak rule of law. Just to give you an idea of the sort of escalation and the kind of numbers we’re looking at – the March 23 Movement, which is a new armed group in the region, attacked Goma in November last year and in one week alone 140,000 people were displaced,” said Spurrell.

Sub-Saharan Africa has 10.4-million IDPs. That’s almost one-third of the world total. Numerous conflicts are the reason.

She said, “These very violent conflicts include those in eastern DRC, which I’ve mentioned, but also Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia are all included.”

But Spurrell said that the country with the largest population of IDPs is not in in the Mideast or sub-Saharan Africa, but rather South America. Colombia has between five and five and a half million internally displaced people due to high levels of crime-related violence and armed conflict.

“Colombia, DRC and now, indeed, Syria are all situations where there are a real protracted conflict situations, where millions of people are stuck in this protracted displacement situation completely reliant on aid often for many years,” she said.

Despite the figures, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center says there is some encouraging news. Over the last 15 years, about 25 countries have adopted laws and policies to protect IDPs. This includes the Kampala Convention in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the world’s first legally binding treaty that protects the displaced. Since IDPs have not crossed borders of neighboring countries they are not considered refugees. As a result, many may receive little or no assistance. 
.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid