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COVID-19 presents new challenges for internally displaced people

In 2019, global displacement hit a new high.

At the end of 2019, a record 50.8 million people across the globe were internally displaced, according to a report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

The report estimated that 45.7 million people were displaced by conflict and violence and 5.1 million by disasters.

Over the past decade, the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide has doubled.

There were an estimated 33.4 million new displacements in 2019, the highest number since 2012.

Weather-related catastrophes accounted for 24.9 million of the new displacements, with regions within Asia most affected. India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, and even the United States, recorded the highest numbers.

Image credit: The Conversation

Of the 8.5 million new displacements caused by conflict and acts of war, IDMC recorded the highest numbers in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Afghanistan.

The problem with long-term internal displacement - displacement that occurs for many years or even decades - is that as time passes, returning home becomes less and less relevant as a solution to the individual's displacement.

Internally displaced persons suffer significantly higher rates of mortality than the general population. They also remain at high risk of physical attack, sexual assault and abduction, and are often deprived of suitable shelter, food and health services.

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting new challenges for displaced populations and humanitarians. For example, the outbreak of coronavirus has constricted further the migration routes that some IDPs turn to in order to reach countries where they can claim asylum.

The immediate issue, however, is the impact COVID-19 is having on the health and wellbeing of IDPs - in the face of the outbreak, internally displaced people are especially at risk.

Longer-term social and financial consequences also mean that IDPs will need more assistance than ever.


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