There were 59.1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) across the world at the end of 2021, 53.2 million as a result of conflict and violence, and 5.9 million as a result of disasters.
Disasters triggered 13.7 million internal displacements in East Asia and the Pacific in 2021. The most affected countries were China, the Philippines and India.
Around 25.2 million of the world's IDPs are under the age of 18 and the effects of their displacement go well beyond their immediate safety, wellbeing and education. A healthy and happy child is more likely to contribute to an equitable society and a functioning economy, according to Global Report on Internal Displacement 2022 released by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
"More data is needed to better understand these broader and longer-term impacts, but it is clear that protecting and supporting displaced children and young people not only safeguards their rights, but also contributes to a more stable future for all," the report said.
Disasters triggered 13.7 million internal displacements in East Asia and the Pacific in 2021, the highest figure since 2016 and above the annual average for the last decade of 11.6 million. As in previous years, the region accounted for the majority of disaster displacements recorded worldwide. It is home to most of the world’s population, many of whom live in areas prone to a wide range of hazards including storms, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Most of the new and repeated displacements triggered by disasters in 2021 were recorded in the Asia and Pacific regions, which together accounted for about 80 per cent of the total. Tropical cyclones, monsoon rains and floods hit highly exposed areas that are home to millions of people. The most affected countries were China, the Philippines and India.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than 80 per cent of all internal displacements triggered by conflict and violence worldwide in 2021. The regional total was 4.7 million higher than the figure for the previous year, driven mostly by conflict in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, Somalia and the Central African Republic (CAR).
Conflict and violence triggered 11.6 million internal displacements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2021, the highest figure ever recorded for the region. New waves of violence in eastern Africa and escalating tensions and conflict in the central Sahel and Lake Chad regions accounted for most of the movements, but violence also led to displacement in southern and central Africa, most notably in CAR, DRC and Mozambique. Foreign military activity also influenced displacement and return trends in a number of countries.
"The number of people living in internal displacement worldwide has reached an all-time high. The unprecedented figures presented in this report are fuelled by both new and protracted conflicts, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. Millions more have fled their homes in Europe in recent months as the war in Ukraine evolves into the largest displacement crisis in the world. Disaster displacement continues to represent a significant global challenge with its impacts being felt in every corner of the world," IDMC noted.
Behind the data are millions of lives disrupted, communities torn apart, and children deprived of their future. The impacts of displacement not only place a heavy toll on children today, but also on future generations. We must look beyond the direct and immediate consequences on young people to better understand how these are connected to longer-term impacts on communities and societies. In the meantime, recognising children and youth as agents of change is vital to protecting development gains and reducing the risk of future displacement.