A record 33.3 million now displaced by war worldwide, as one family flees inside Syria every 60 seconds - Report

Press Releases, 14 May 2014

33.3 million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signalling a record high for the second year running.

Today IDMC, part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), launched its Global Overview 2014 at the United Nations in Geneva, alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The report, which covers internal displacement in 2013 highlights that a full 63% of the record breaking 33.3 million internally displaced people (IDPs) reported worldwide, come from just five countries: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Including figures for Nigeria for the first time, the report documents that an astounding, 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict.

"This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analysing displacement back in the late 90s," says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.

"The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue," says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: "We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative."

By the end of 2013, 8.2 million people were newly displaced, an increase of 1.6 million compared to the year before. A shocking 43% of all the people newly displaced in 2013 were in Syria.

"The IDMC report reveals a frightening reality of life inside Syria, now the largest internal displacement crisis in the world," says Egeland. "Not only do armed groups control the areas where internal displacement camps are located, these camps are badly managed, provide inadequate shelter, sanitation and limited aid delivery." Further to this, the IDMC report reveals how large concentrations of IDPs have been particularly targeted by artillery bombardments and airstrikes.

With 9,500 people a day (approximately one family every 60 seconds) being displaced inside Syria, the country remains the largest and fastest evolving displacement crisis in the world.

The three countries experiencing the worst levels of new displacement Syria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) together accounted for 67% of the 8.2 million people newly displaced in the year.

"That these three countries appear top of the IDMC list reveals an alarming reality," said Alfredo Zamudio, Director of IDMC. "They account not only for those fleeing from relatively new crises, as in Syria and CAR, but are also reflective of the horrendous situations still faced by innocent people stuck in the midst protracted conflict, such as the DRC which has suffered persistent turmoil dating back to the mid 90's."

Egeland continues: "These trends do not bode well for the future we have to sit up, listen up and act up by working more closely together to end this misery for millions; humanitarians alone cannot make this happen." "Global internal displacement is everyone's problem, from politicians to private companies, development actors and lawyers we all have a role to play," said Egeland."Global internal displacement is everyone's problem, from politicians to private companies, development actors and lawyers we all have a role to play," said Egeland.

NOTE: The full report, IDMC media contacts, a summary, maps and charts can be downloaded by copying and pasting the following link into a web browser http://www.internal-displacement.org/about-us/idmc-media-centre.

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Jihan's Story

Like millions, 34-year-old Jihan was willing to risk everything in order to escape war-torn Syria and find safety for her family. Unlike most, she is blind.

Nine months ago, she fled Damascus with her husband, Ashraf, 35, who is also losing his sight. Together with their two sons, they made their way to Turkey, boarding a boat with 40 others and setting out on the Mediterranean Sea. They hoped the journey would take eight hours. There was no guarantee they would make it alive.

After a treacherous voyage that lasted 45 hours, the family finally arrived at a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, called Milos - miles off course. Without support or assistance, they had to find their own way to Athens.

The police detained them for four days upon their arrival. They were cautioned to stay out of Athens, as well as three other Greek cities, leaving them stranded.

By now destitute and exhausted, the family were forced to split up - with Ashraf continuing the journey northwards in search of asylum and Jihan taking their two sons to Lavrion, an informal settlement about an hour's drive from the Greek capital.

Today, Jihan can only wait to be reunited with her husband, who has since been granted asylum in Denmark. The single room she shares with her two sons, Ahmed, 5, and Mohammad, 7, is tiny, and she worries about their education. Without an urgent, highly complex corneal transplant, her left eye will close forever.

"We came here for a better life and to find people who might better understand our situation," she says, sadly. "I am so upset when I see how little they do [understand]."

Jihan's Story

The Charcoal Boys: Child Labour in Lebanon

Bebnine is one of many small towns in northern Lebanon that have seen an influx of Syrian refugees in recent months. Many of the new residents are children, whose education has been disrupted. A lot of them must work to support their families instead of studying to lay the foundations for a bright future. This set of photographs by Andrew McConnell, documents one group of boys who risk their health by working for a charcoal seller in Bebnine. Aged between 11 and 15 years old, they earn the equivalent of less than 70 US cents an hour filling, weighing and carrying sacks of charcoal. It's hard work and after an average eight-hour day they are covered in charcoal dust. Throughout the region, an estimated one in ten Syrian refugee children is engaged in child labour.

The Charcoal Boys: Child Labour in Lebanon

For Starters, a Tent: A Syrian Teacher Opens a School in Jordan

In the semi-rural area of Kherbet Al-Souk, on the outskirts of Amman, Syrian refugees struggling to get their children into crowded state schools have taken matters into their own hands. They have set up a simple school in their small informal settlement of about 500 refugees. The families had lived in Za'atri or Al-Aghwar camps, but moved out to be closer to other relatives and to access basic services in the capital. But ensuring education for all refugee children in Jordan has proved difficult for the government and its partners, including UNHCR. According to the UN, more than half of all Syrian refugee children in Jordan are not in school. In Kherbet Al-Souk, the refugee-run school consists of a large tent where the students sit on the ground with their text books. All of the students take classes together with the younger children in the front. Before, they spent a lot of time playing, but they were not learning anything. One refugee, Jamal, decided to do something about it. Photographer Shawn Baldwin met Jamal and visited the school in a tent. These are some of the images he took.

For Starters, a Tent: A Syrian Teacher Opens a School in Jordan

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Lina has not heard from her husband since he was detained in Syria two years ago. Now a refugee in Lebanon, she lives in a tented settlement with her seven children.
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