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Migration Tracking Group Says 76 Million People Were Displaced Within Their Countries in 2023

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Migration Tracking Group Says 76 Million People Were Displaced Within Their Countries in 2023

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GENEVA (AP) – Conflicts and natural disasters left a record nearly 76 million people displaced within their countries last year, with violence in Sudan, Congo and the Middle East driving two-thirds of new movement, a top migration monitoring group said Tuesday.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center report found that the number of internally displaced people, or IDPs, has jumped by 50 percent over the past five years and roughly doubled in the past decade. It does not cover refugees—displaced people who fled to another country.

The report tracks two major sets of information. It counted 46.9 million physical movements of people in 2023—sometimes more than once. In most of those cases, such as after natural disasters like floods, people eventually return home.

It also compiles the cumulative number of people who were living away from their homes in 2023, including those still displaced from previous years. Some 75.9 million people were living in internal displacement at the end of last year, the report said, with half of those in sub-Saharan African countries.

“The verdict of this report is that we are in a deep crisis globally because we have never, ever recorded worse figures for internal displacement by violence, by conflict, by persecution,” said Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which runs the monitoring center.

Almost 90 percent of the total displacement was attributed to conflict and violence, while some 10 percent stemmed from the impact of natural disasters.

The displacement of more than 9 million people in Sudan at the end of 2023 was a record for a single country since the center started tracking such figures 16 years ago.

That was an increase of nearly 6 million from the end of 2022. Sudan’s conflict erupted in April 2023 as soaring tensions between the leaders of the military and the rival Rapid Support Forces broke out into open fighting across the country.

The group reported a total of 3.4 million movements within Gaza in the last quarter of 2023 amid the Israeli military response to the October 7 attacks in Israel. That means that many people moved more than once within the territory of some 2.2 million. At the end of the year, 1.7 million people were displaced in Gaza.

Monitoring center director Alexandra Bilak said the millions of people forced to flee in 2023 were the “tip of the iceberg,” on top of tens of millions displaced from earlier and continuing conflicts, violence and disasters.

The figures offer a different window into the impact of conflict, extreme weather and other factors on human movement. The UN refugee agency monitors displacement across borders but not within countries, while the UN migration agency tracks all movements of people, including for economic or lifestyle reasons.

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