More than 5.5 million people have been internally displaced by conflict in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, a new study released on Wednesday reveals.
The report by Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) says that Sub-Saharan Africa, a continent which only makes up 14 percent of the world’s population, accounted for nearly half of the 11.8 million people displaced by conflict in 2017.
The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2018) reveals that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was hardest hit, with almost 2.2 million new displacements, more than three worst-affected countries — South Sudan, Ethiopia and Central African Republic –combined, which together accounted for 2.1 million.
Alexandra Bilak, Director of IDMC, said the scale of this displacement is dishearteningly familiar.
“This report shows why we need a new approach to address the huge costs of internal displacement, not only to individuals, but also to the economy, stability and security of affected countries,” Bilak said.
According to the report, almost 15,000 people a day fled within their own their countries to escape conflict and violence.
“Internal displacement often heralds the start of broader crises. While we have seen some useful policy progress since the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 20 years ago, it is nowhere near enough to cope with, much less reduce, the scale of the problem,” said Bilak.
IDMC said the Boko Haram insurgency, ethnic violence and clashes over diminishing resources led to more than 415,000 new displacements in the Lake Chad Basin, 65 percent of them in Nigeria’s north-eastern states.
It recorded 388,000 new displacements associated with conflict and an additional 892,000 due to drought in Somalia.
However, the report says the complex situation in Somalia means that the causes of flight are closely interlinked and hard to disaggregate.
Jan Egeland, NRC’s Secretary General, said the staggering number of people forced to flee from their homes due to conflict and violence must serve as an eye opener to all.
“We are getting better at providing emergency aid, but we need to put a lot more effort into preventing displacement, protecting people, and finding long-term solutions,” Egeland said.
According to IDMC, storms and floods forced an additional 2.6 million people to flee their homes across the region.
It predicts Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth and urbanization rate to increase in the coming decades, warning that unless this is carefully managed, more people are expected to become displaced by more frequent and intense disasters.
“Without renewed action, we risk failing millions of internally displaced people worldwide, and holding back the development of the countries which host them,” Bilak said.
The report says with a unique legal framework in the Kampala Convention, incomparable natural resources and huge economic capital and human potential, Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to become a global leader in addressing internal displacement associated with both conflict and disasters.