Disasters, conflicts triggered 5 mln displacements in India in 2019

India's tally highest among 33 mln globally

By Susan Chacko
Published: Wednesday 29 April 2020
Source: Wikipedia

Nearly five million people were displaced in India in 2019 — the highest in the world so far — according to a recent report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), titled ‘The Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2020)’.

The centre is a part of the Norwegian Refugee Council. Globally, around 33.4 million people faced new internal displacements because of conflicts and disasters in about 145 countries in 2019.

The displacements in India were prompted by increased hazard intensity, high population and social and economic vulnerability, the report stated.

More than 2.6 million people suffered displacement due to the southwest monsoon, according to the report. It added that 2019 was the seventh warmest year since 1901 in India; its monsoon was the wettest in 25 years.

Eight tropical storms hit in the year fuelling further destruction.

The northwest monsoon unleashed displacement along with cyclone Maha, which hit Kerala and the Lakshwadweep Islands. This was followed by Cyclone Bulbul, which struck Odisha and West Bengal, triggering 186,000 displacements.

In addition to displacement due to natural disasters, over 19,000 conflicts and violence also prompted the phenomenon. Political and electoral violence, especially in Tripura and West Bengal, led to the displacement of more than 7,600 people.

Unrests and communal violence triggered displacement in the second half of the year, the report stated.

Nearly three-quarters of the global displacements, accounting for 24.9 million of the total, were triggered by disasters in 2019. Out of these, about 95 per cent took place due to weather hazards like storms and floods.

A majority of conflict displacements took place due to armed conflict; communal violence accounted for significant portion of the global total of 8.5 million displacements. Although the phenomenon of internal displacement was a global challenge, geo-located data showed that even within countries and territories, it tended to be concentrated.

Disaster displacement was recorded in low and high-income countries alike.

Most of the disaster displacements were triggered by tropical storms and monsoon rains in South Asia and East Asia and Pacific. Bangladesh, China, India and the Philippines each recorded more than four million displacements in 2019.

Double burden of displacement

Conflict continued unabated in countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Syria. Violence increased sharply in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Natural disasters in Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen forced many people, already displaced by conflict, to flee for the second time.

“Year after year, conflict and violence uproot millions of people from their homes. Collectively, we are failing by epic proportions to protect the world’s most vulnerable people. Politicians, generals and diplomats must rise above stalemates and seek ceasefires and peace talks, not guns and grenades,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council. 

Continued political violence was utterly senseless in the age of the novel coronavirus disease, he added. 

Finding solutions

Greater levels of political commitment in countries like Niger and Somalia improved the countries’ policy frameworks on internal displacement. Others like Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines included displacement in their development plans and reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Strengthened capacity across humanitarian and development sectors manifested in better coordination and increased investment.

For instance, multi-year funding in Haiti enabled a longer and more transparent planning framework, and the United Nations Peace Building Fund’s support for durable solutions in Somalia was channeled to local organisations.

Improvements in the quantity and quality of data available also enabled better reporting and analysis, which in turn informed more effective responses and risk mitigation measures.

The combination of official monitoring of disaster displacement in the Philippines with mobile phone tracking data and social media analysis helped improve planning for shelters, reconstruction and long term urban recovery.

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