Record number internally displaced by conflict - report

People arriving at an IDP camp in South Sudan, May 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption South Sudan was among the countries with the sharpest rise in internal displacement

A record 38 million people remain displaced inside their own countries through conflict and violence, a new report says.

The figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) were described as the worst in a generation.

Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria had the most newly displaced people.

Jan Egeland, the NRC's secretary general, said the figures should act as a wake-up call to political leaders.

"Global diplomats, UN resolutions, peace talks and ceasefire agreements have lost the battle against ruthless armed men who are driven by political or religious interests rather than human imperatives," he said in a statement.

The figures, detailing the situation at the end of 2014, are contained in the NRC's annual Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) report.

It says the 38 million figure includes 11 million who were newly displaced in 2014.

Syria had the highest number of internally displaced people - people who remain in their homeland, as opposed to refugees, who cross borders.

The report said 7.6 million people had left their homes because of the conflict, now in its fifth year - at least 35% of the population.

Displaced in figures

  • 38 million is equivalent to the combined populations of London, New York, and Beijing
  • 60% of newly displaced people last year were in just five countries: Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria
  • In Iraq, 2.2 million people were forced to flee inside the country from areas seized by the co-called Islamic State group
  • In 2014, there were people who had been displaced for a decade or more in nearly 90% of the 60 countries monitored

Source: IDMC report

Ukraine, which has seen fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces, appeared in the report for the first time, with 646,500 people internally displaced there in 2014.

Last year, the UN said the number of people living as refugees from war or persecution had exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War Two.

The total number of people affected worldwide dwarfs the figures seen at the peak of the Darfur crisis in 2004, the violence in Iraq in the mid-2000s, and in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the IDMC said.

Aid agencies said the international community must invest much more in conflict prevention, and in support for the displaced.

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