The number of movements in which people fled in search of safety and shelter, sometimes more than once, was also unprecedented in 2022 with the figure of 60.9 million which was up 60 per cent from the previous year. The conflict in Ukraine triggered nearly 17 million displacements as people fled repeatedly from rapidly shifting frontlines, and monsoon floods in Pakistan triggered 8.2 million, accounting for a quarter of the year’s global disaster displacement.
“Today’s displacement crises are growing in scale, complexity and scope, and factors like food insecurity, climate change and escalating and protracted conflicts are adding new layers to this phenomenon,” said IDMC’ director Alexandra Bilak. “Greater resources and further research are essential to help understand and better respond to IDPs’ needs”, he added.
Internal displacement is a global phenomenon, but nearly three-quarters of the world’s IDPs live in just 10 countries – Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ukraine, Colombia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan – many as a result of unresolved conflicts that continued to trigger significant displacement in 2022.
Conflict and violence triggered 28.3 million internal displacements worldwide, a figure three times higher than the annual average over the past decade. Beyond Ukraine, nine million or 32 per cent of the global total were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. DRC accounted for around four million and Ethiopia just over two million.
The number of disaster displacements rose by nearly 40 per cent compared to the previous year, reaching 32.6 million, largely the result of the effects of La Niña which continued for a third consecutive year. South Asia recorded the highest regional figure, surpassing East Asia and the Pacific for the first time in a decade. In the Horn of Africa, the worst drought in 40 years triggered 2.1 million movements, including 1.1 million in Somalia alone, while fuelling acute food insecurity across the region.
The secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland described the overlapping crises around the world as a “perfect storm”.
“Conflict and disasters combined last year to aggravate people’s pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, triggering displacement on a scale never seen before,” he said. “The war in Ukraine also fuelled a global food security crisis that hit the internally displaced hardest. This perfect storm has undermined years of progress made in reducing global hunger and malnutrition.”
Better data and analysis are still needed to improve understanding of the relationship between food security and displacement, but IDMC’s report shows that the former is often a consequence of the latter and can have lasting impacts on both IDPs and host communities. Three-quarters of the countries that face crisis levels of food insecurity are also home to IDPs.
Shining light on this connection is key to understanding how IDPs are affected by disruptions to food systems, but also how future investments in food security will be essential to reaching solutions.
“There is an increasing need for durable solutions to meet the scale of the challenges facing displaced people”, Bilak said. “This spans the expansion of cash assistance and livelihood programmes that improve IDPs’ economic security, through to investments in risk reduction measures that strengthen their communities’ resilience.”