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By Kristy Siegfried | 10 May, 2019


More people displaced inside their own countries than ever before. A record 41.3 million people were displaced within their own countries because of conflict and violence at the end of 2018, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’s annual global report released today. IDMC recorded 28 million new internal displacements in 2018, 10.8 million of which were linked to conflict and violence. Ongoing conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, and a rise in intercommunal tensions in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria triggered most of the new displacements. Another 17.2 million new displacements were associated with disasters, the majority of them caused by extreme weather events. Increasing numbers of internally displaced people suggested the more global crises were long-lasting, said Alexandra Bilak, IDCM’s director. “Unresolved internal displacement has all sorts of knock-on effects – one of them being that IDPs today could become refugees tomorrow,” she told Reuters.

Italian ships rescue 66 people off Libya. A first group of 36 refugees and migrants were picked up in international waters off the Libyan coast on Thursday by an Italian naval patrol ship. A statement from the navy said those on board, including two women and eight minors, had been in “mortal danger” as their boat was taking on water. In the evening, rescue ship Mare Jonio, operated by the NGO Mediterranea, said it had rescued 30 people and requested a safe port from the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre. The Mare Jonio entered Italian waters this morning and was allowed to disembark its passengers in Lampedusa. Meanwhile, reports emerged that 214 people were intercepted and returned to Libya on Wednesday night. According to Médecins Sans Frontières, they were disembarked in Khoms and taken to detention centres in the area that are already overcrowded. “There can be no ‘rescue’ if people are being taken back to nightmarish detention centres and an increasingly volatile security situation,” commented UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley.


Refugees seek safety in Tripoli school. While aid groups continue to warn of the grave danger faced by some 3,500 refugees and migrants trapped in detention centres near the frontlines of the conflict in the Libyan capital, many more who are living outside detention are also affected by the fighting. They have been among some 59,000 people forced to flee their homes since early April. The New Humanitarian visited a school-turned-shelter run by the Libyan Red Crescent in a relatively safe part of the city where about 150 refugees and migrants, most of them from Sudan and Eritrea, have taken refuge. Most have already survived multiple conflicts and sometimes horrific journeys to reach Libya.

More help needed for displaced refugees in Sri Lanka. The UN Refugee Agency today urged authorities in Sri Lanka to find alternative accommodation for some 1,060 refugees and asylum-seekers who have fled threats and possible reprisals and sought refuge in mosques, police stations and community centres since the Easter Sunday attacks on 21 April. “These sites are not meant to accommodate large numbers of people over time,” said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch. “Families with small children are living without proper shelter, sanitation and access to health care.” In a joint statement on Thursday, seven human rights groups called on the Sri Lankan authorities to take measures to prevent retaliatory attacks targeting refugees and asylum-seekers.

Thousands of asylum-seekers wait in Mexico. AP reports from eight cities on the Mexican side of the US border where it estimates 13,000 people are on waiting lists to be admitted to the United States. Mexican agencies, volunteers and NGOs are helping to manage the lists which have been growing since last year when the administration began limiting the number of asylum cases it accepts each day at the main border crossings, citing a lack of processing capacity. In some parts of the border, such as Reynosa, the challenges faced by the waiting asylum-seekers are compounded by the risk of violence and kidnappings by local cartels.


Betty Asha escaped forced early marriage to become the first person in her South Sudanese village to graduate from high school. Soon afterwards, war broke out in South Sudan and she asked friends in the United States to help people from her home village escape the violence into Uganda. Using funding they sent, she rented trucks to transport nearly 2,300 people to safety. Now Betty is about to arrive in Knoxville, Tennessee to study at Maryville College.


More than half of the 10.8 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence in 2018 occurred in three countries: Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria.