Somalia and Ethiopia are among the ten worst affected countries
BY FAUXILE KIBET
Almost 15,000 were uprooted from their homes each day in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, a new report has revealed.
The report by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) adds that the region, which makes 14% of the world’s population accounted for nearly half the 11.8 million people displaced by conflict and climatic factors in 2017.
The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2018) further shows that the Democratic Republic of Congo was hardest hit, with almost 2.2 million new displacements. Somalia and Ethiopia are among the ten worst affected countries, the report notes.
The majority of returns took place to and in countries with active armed conflict and unresolved displacement crises, the report says adding, Nigeria, Somalia and Afghanistan were among the countries where many of those returning home, whether refugees or IDPs, found themselves internally displaced again
Other countries which were worst affected include South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR) which together accounted for 2.1 million displaced persons.
“The scale of this displacement is dishearteningly familiar,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director of IDMC. “This report shows why we need a new approach to address the huge costs of internal displacement, not only to individuals, but also to the economy, stability and security of affected countries.”
In Somalia, IDMC recorded 388,000 new displacements associated with conflict and an additional 892,000 due to drought. However, the complex situation in Somalia means that the causes of flight are closely interlinked and hard to disaggregate.
“The staggering number of people forced to flee from their homes due to conflict and violence must serve as an eye opener to us all,” said Jan Egeland, NRC’s Secretary General. “We are getting better at providing emergency aid, but we need to put a lot more effort into preventing displacement, protecting people, and finding long-term solutions.”
The Boko Haram insurgency, ethnic violence and clashes over diminishing resources led to more than 415,000 new displacements in the Lake Chad Basin, 65 per cent of them in Nigeria’s north-eastern states.
Storms and floods forced an additional 2.6 million people to flee their homes across the region. Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth and urbanisation rate are predicted to increase in the coming decades, and unless this is carefully managed, more people are expected to become displaced by more frequent and intense disasters.
“Internal displacement often heralds the start of broader crises. While we have seen some useful policy progress since the adoption of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 20 years ago, it is nowhere near enough to cope with, much less reduce, the scale of the problem,” said Bilak.
Yet Sub-Saharan Africa is well placed to act. With a unique legal framework in the Kampala Convention, incomparable natural resources and huge economic capital and human potential, it has the potential to become a global leader in addressing internal displacement associated with both conflict and disasters.
However, Bilak added, “without renewed action, we risk failing millions of internally displaced people worldwide, and holding back the development of the countries which host them. It’s time for an honest conversation on the most effective ways to turn the tide on this global crisis.
This conversation must be led by affected countries and receive full support from the international community.”