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Internally Displaced People Figures

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© UNHCR/P.Taggart

About two-thirds of the world's forcibly uprooted people are displaced within their own country. They are known as internally displaced people (IDP) and UNHCR has been playing an increasingly important role in recent years in assisting them. According to the latest figures released by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), there were 28.8 million IDPs around the world in 2012, up from 2011. The global number of IDPs has steadily increased from a total of around 17 million in 1997.

At the end of 2012, the UN refugee agency was caring for around 15.5 million of these IDPs, more than the total number of refugees of concern to UNHCR. Like refugees, they were forcibly displaced by conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations. UNHCR helps IDPs as part of a wider intervention by the international community.

The 28.8 million internally displaced civilians recorded in the IDMC report included more than 6.5 million newly displaced, almost twice as many as the 3.5 million recorded the year before. The conflicts in Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were responsible for around half of the new displacements, with 2.4 million and one million respectively, while an estimated 500,000 people fled their homes in both Sudan and India.

The largest regional increase in the number of internally displaced people in 2012 was in the Middle East and North Africa, where 2.5 million people were forced to flee their homes. There were almost 6 million IDPs in the region at the end of 2012, a rise of 40 per cent on the 2011. The figure continued to rise in 2013. Asia showed the second highest increase in new displacement after the Middle East and North Africa, with 1.4 million people forced to flee their homes during 2012.

The region with the largest total number of IDPs was sub-Saharan Africa, which was hosting 10.4 million, an increase of 7.5 per cent compared with the year before, thus reversing the downward trend recorded since 2004. The Americas region hosted the second largest number of IDPs in 2012 with a total of 5.8 million, an increase of 3 per cent. Colombia remains the country with the highest number of IDPs in the world, with a total of between 4.9 and 5.5 million, according to the IDMC. The country's internal armed conflict forced an estimated 230,000 people to flee their homes during the year.