Manipur violence accounted for 97% of displacements in South Asia in 2023: IDMC report

The report by the Geneva-based IDMC termed it the highest number of displacements triggered by conflict and violence in India since 2018.
A displaced person from the Meitei community lives in a relief camp in Moirang, near Imphal.
A displaced person from the Meitei community lives in a relief camp in Moirang, near Imphal.File Photo | AP

NEW DELHI: Conflict and violence triggered 69,000 displacements in South Asia in 2023, with Manipur violence alone accounting for 67,000, according to a new report.

The report by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) termed it the highest number of displacements triggered by conflict and violence in India since 2018.

On May 3, 2023, a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in Manipur's hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

The march led to ethnic clashes between the Meitei and the Kuki communities, ultimately claiming more than 200 lives.

The Manipur High Court had in March last year called for recommendations to be sent to the central government to recognise the Meitei community as a "scheduled tribe," an official status designed to protect minorities from marginalisation.

The call was met with resistance from other local scheduled tribes, including the Kukis.

Land disputes were also an underlying driver of the tensions.

A displaced person from the Meitei community lives in a relief camp in Moirang, near Imphal.
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"Protests turned violent in Churachandpur district on May 3, and the violence spread to other districts, including Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Tengnupal, and Kangpokipi, triggering around 67,000 displacements," the report said.

More than three-quarters of the movements took place within Manipur, but almost a fifth were to the neighbouring state of Mizoram and smaller numbers to Nagaland and Assam.

As the violence escalated, the central government imposed curfews, shut down the internet, and dispatched security forces.

A displaced person from the Meitei community lives in a relief camp in Moirang, near Imphal.
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It also set up relief camps and established a peace committee for Manipur, chaired by the state governor, but the initiative was hampered by disagreements about its composition.

All of those displaced by the violence were still living in internal displacement at the end of the year, the IDMC noted.

The IDMC said around 5.3 million people were living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence across South Asia at the end of 2023, 80 per cent of whom were in Afghanistan.

A displaced person from the Meitei community lives in a relief camp in Moirang, near Imphal.
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