In a new report the United Nations states that more than 27 million people were uprooted by violence within their countries, including Pakistan, in 2009, the highest number since the mid-1990s.
The six countries listed in the report with the largest internally displaced people (IDP) populations are: Sudan, with nearly 5 million; Colombia, with between 3.3 and 4.9 million; Iraq, with almost 2.8 million; the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with nearly 2 million; Somalia, with 1.5 million; and Pakistan, with 1.2 million.
Africa is the region witnessing the greatest volume of internal displacement, with a total of 11.6 million IDPs in 21 countries, while South and South-East Asia saw the biggest jump in numbers of IDPs from 3.5 million in 2008 to 4.3 million in 2009.
The report attributed the rising numbers of internally displaced persons, or IDPs, to long-running internal conflicts. It also found that the number of IDPs has soared from 17 million in 1997 to more than 27 million last year, while the number of refugees has remained fairly stable, fluctuating between 13 million and 16 million in the same period.
The term IDP and other jargon do not come close to doing justice to the truly awful experience of being displaced, disoriented, traumatized, confused, fearful, disempowered, dependent, helpless said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, at the report’s launch on Monday in London.
Last year alone, 6.8 million people were newly displaced. “This tells us not just that humanitarian needs are greater now than ever, but also that our worst-case projections of where humanitarian trends would go in the next few years are materializing,” Holmes said.
Humanitarian work, he noted, will continue to focus largely on conflicts, as internal clashes materialize, impacting civilians trapped by fighting. Demands of aid agencies are also on the rise due to vulnerabilities caused by climate change, the recent global food crisis, population growth and urbanization, among other factors.