Conflict, violence and disasters have caused more than 9 million new internal displacements globally in the first half of 2017, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
Of the 9 million new internal displacements, 4.6 million were caused by conflict, a figure which is already two-thirds of last year’s total. The countries with the highest new internal displacement by conflict are: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): 997,000; Iraq: 922,000; Syria: 692,000; the Philippines: 466,000; Ethiopia: 213,000; Central African Republic (CAR):206,000; South Sudan: 163,000; the Gambia: 162,000; Afghanistan: 159,000; Nigeria: 142,000; Yemen: 112,000; and Somalia: 70,000.
The deteriorating situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in almost a million (997,000) new displacements in the first half of the year. The total figure of those displaced by conflict in the country now stands at 3.7 million, which is an increase of around two million new displacements on June 2016, and remains the highest in Africa. The conflict has spread to new areas and eight of the country’s 26 provinces are now affected by violence.
Iraq follows closely with 922,000 new displacements, mainly due to the waves of offensives on Mosul. Extensive damage to the city means that those displaced are unlikely to be able to return in the near future. In Kirkuk governorate, which is still under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), clashes in the Hawiia district resulted in approximately 37,000 displacements.
692,000 new displacements also took place in Syria, where over the first six months of the year, fighting between government and non-government forces intensified in several governorates, including the offensive on Raqqa City, triggering large waves of displacement.
In the Philippines, 466,000 new displacements were reported in connection with ongoing tensions and armed conflict on Mindanao Island, concentrated mainly in and around Marawi city. More than 350,000 people are estimated to be displaced in the city and surrounding region.
There are also deepening concerns about other African countries, with high figures being recorded in CAR where violence has escalated since September 2016 because of clashes between the country’s various armed groups. Unrest in Ethiopia is also on the rise, with armed groups trying to take down the government, and violence now tripling in size since the last big period of unrest in 1997. With over 213,000 new displacements in the first half of 2017, the total number of people internally displaced by conflict in Ethiopia has now risen to more than 588,000.
Disaster displacement continues at an unabated pace too: already more than half the number of relevant disaster events were reported by end-June 2017 as compared to the total of 2016, but only around a fifth of new displacements were recorded: 4.5 million new displacements across 350 events. While comparably low, however, these numbers are equally concerning as sudden-onset seasonal storms and floods in South and South East Asia as well as the hurricane season in the Americas are still to come and numbers can be expected to rise exponentially, like in previous years.
The disasters triggering the highest numbers of new internal displacements were: floods in the southern provinces, China, in June: 858,000; tropical cyclone Mora, across Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, in May and June:851,000; Visayas and Mindanao floods, in the Philippines, between January to March: 381,000; rainy season, in Peru, between January to June: 293,000; tropical cyclone Enawo, in Madagascar, in March: 246,000; Oroville Dam flood, in the US:, in February: 188,000; Maguindanao floods, in the Philippines, in May: 182,000; tropical cyclone Dineo, in Mozambique and Botswana, in February: 147,000; typhoon Merbok (known locally as Bai Miao), in China, in June: 117,000; and Monsoon floods, in Sri Lanka, between May to June: 104,000.
The two largest events of displacement by flooding in China and by Cyclone Mora in Bangladesh, Myanmar and India are stark reminders of the fact that the concentration of populations in flood plains and on hazard prone coastlines combined with high levels of vulnerability result in large numbers of new displacements - and will continue to do so in the face of climate change.
Large-scale new displacements in the Philippines, Peru and Sri Lanka also took place in the context of seasonal flooding. “This shows us that seasonal, to be expected, weather patterns still result in large numbers of new displacements year after year, clearly illustrating that we are not investing enough in reducing vulnerability and exposure. While preparedness, early warning and evacuation systems may have improved over the years, the overall risk of being forced out of your home and becoming displaced in these countries has not been reduced.” says Bina Desai, Head of Policy and Research at IDMC