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Wars and climate change are pushing the number of internally displaced people to record-highs

Wars and climate change are pushing the number of internally displaced people to record-highs

A displaced girl carrying water. Photo credit: Reuters / Akhtar Soomro.

By Anders Lorenzen

The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has reached a record high of 71.1 million people worldwide. The increase was driven by global crises such as the war in Ukraine and the monsoon floods in Pakistan.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), an organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, have said these figures represented a 20% increase since 2021, with an unprecedented number of people fleeing in the search for safety and shelter. IDMC added that the vast majority of nearly three-quarters of the world’s displaced people live in just ten countries including; Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, Ukraine and Sudan.

The climate crisis is driving the displacement of people worldwide

The war in Ukraine triggered nearly 17 million displacements last year, however, 32.6 million, nearly twice that, were displaced due to climate-induced extreme weather impacts events such as floods, droughts and landslides. Conflicts and violence triggered 28.3 million displacements worldwide – a figure that is three times higher than the annual overage of the past decade, and it’s important to remember that these events can’t be disentangled from climate impacts.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council which set up the IDMC in 1998 said: “Conflict and disasters combined last year to aggravate people’s pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities, triggering displacement on a scale never seen before.” 

Advocates have previously argued that the plight of refugees and displaced people is an often missing piece when talking about the impacts of the climate crisis as more and more regions become less habitable,  and the availability of arable land shrinks, the number of IDPs could go through the roof; it should therefore be in the interest of those worried about high numbers of refugees to push for more drastic efforts to reduce emissions and deploy more funding to the world’s poorest countries at the forefront of battling the climate crisis.

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