Wars propel global displacements to record high of 75.9 million in 2023, monitor says

Written by on May 16, 2024

Newly arrive refugees stand outside their makeshift shelter as a sand storm approaches on April 21, 2024 in Adre, Chad. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(LONDON) — A record 75.9 million people were displaced by the end of 2023 by conflict, violence and national disasters, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said in a report released Tuesday.

At least 68.3 million people were living in displacement by the end of 2023 as a result of conflict and violence, the highest-ever figure since data became available, according to the report.

Conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gaza have fueled the rising figures, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the record total, the report found.

“Millions of families are having their lives torn apart by conflict and violence,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “We have never, ever recorded so many people forced away from their homes and communities.”

By the end of 2023 at least 9.1 million people were displaced by the conflict in Sudan according to the IMDC, the most ever recorded in a single country since records began in 2008.

The Israel-Hamas war has also caused displacement in the region to spike to what is the highest figure in the region since data became available in 2008.

In Europe, 99% of the region’s conflict displacements were associated with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine: “Conflict displacement figures decreased from 17.1 million in 2022 to 779,000 in 2023 as the front lines in the war between Ukraine and Russia remained relatively unchanged during the year.”

“The images from Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan are only the most recent in a trend towards increasing upheaval and dislocation of civilians across the globe,” said Robert Piper, special adviser on solutions to internal displacement to the United Nations secretary-general.

The report found the onset of the Israel-Hamas war shifted displacement in the region.

“The conflict in Palestine contributed to an eight-fold increase in conflict in the Middle East and North Africa in 2023 after three years of consecutive decreases,” says the IMDC. “An estimated 4.1 million movements were reported, of which 203,000 took place in Israel and 3.4 million in Palestine, the vast majority in the Gaza Strip.”

Natural disasters triggered 26.4 million internal displacements and movements around the world by the end of 2023, the third-highest figure in the last decade, but a decline from 2022, the report said.

Severe weather in China and high-magnitude earthquakes in China and Turkey accounted for a third of displacement, the Turkey-Syria quake displacing 4.7 million people, the highest figure for earthquakes since 2008.

Two-thirds of other disaster displacements were recorded in Canada and Greece, the nations reporting some of their highest-ever figures.

And while weather changes from La Niña to El Niño led to fewer displacements across most of Asia, storms and floods — particularly in the Horn of Africa — have triggered record numbers with 2.9 million displaced, the report said.

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