Number of people forcibly displaced crossed 100 million in 2022: UNDP

Climate change could displace over 200 million people by 2050

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Friday 02 December 2022
Number of people forced to flee from home crossed 100 million in 2022: UNDP Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

For the first time ever, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced in 2022, most of them within their own countries, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

These internally displaced persons struggle to cover their basic needs, find decent work or have a stable source of income, among other challenges, the global body highlighted, describing their plight as an ‘invisible crisis’ due to gaps in development support.

At the end of 2021, there were over 59 million people forcibly displaced within their own countries due to conflict, violence, disasters and climate change, according to the report Turning the tide on internal displacement: A development approach to solutions published November 29, 2022. 

This was the highest global figure and more than double the number recorded 10 years ago, the analysis by UNDP and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre showed. 

But that was before the war in Ukraine, where 6.5 million people are estimated to have been internally displaced, the report noted.

Longer-term development action is needed to reverse record levels of internal displacement, with millions more people predicted to be uprooted by climate change, UNDP said.  

By 2050, climate change could force more than an estimated 216 million people to move within their own countries, according to World Bank.

The direct impact of internal displacement globally was estimated at over $21.5 billion in 2021. The figure represents the financial cost of providing every internally displaced person with housing, education, health and security, and accounts for their loss of income for one year of displacement.

For years, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa and parts of the Americas have been the regions most affected by internal displacement linked with conflicts and violence.

The report cited sample data from a survey of some 2,653 internally displaced persons and people from host communities in Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Somalia and Vanuatu. 

The data was collected by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre from January 2021 to January 2022. 

Displacement disrupted the professional lives of internally displaced persons across the eight countries surveyed. Around 30 per cent of them became unemployed and 24 per cent were not able to earn money the same way as before. 

As a result, 48 per cent of the internally displaced households surveyed earned less money than before displacement. Female and youth-headed households were more impacted, the analysis showed.

Children of internally displaced persons were on average 28 per cent more likely to have experienced breaks in schooling than their host counterparts, according to the findings.

Around 31 per cent of the respondents said their health worsened following displacement, according to the report.

Disaster-related internal displacement is even more widespread, with new displacements recorded in over 130 countries and territories in 2021, the report said.

Many affected countries will not be able to reach their United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals including the critical ones on poverty, education, peaceful societies and gender equality, flagged UNDP.

The report revealed that humanitarian aid alone cannot overcome record levels of internal displacement globally. The authors proposed new ways to address the consequences of internal displacement through a development approach.

Five key pathways to development solutions were suggested. These include:

  • Strengthening governance institutions
  • Boosting socio-economic integration through access to jobs and services
  • Restoring security
  • Enhancing participation 
  • Building social cohesion 

UNDP called for countries to take political, social and economic measures to ensure that IDPs can exercise their full rights as citizens, including in political processes. 

This renewed social contract should ensure the safety of IDPs as well as their access to healthcare, education, decent jobs and social protection.

The report underscored that overcoming internal displacement depends on governments implementing key development solutions, including ensuring equal access to rights and basic services, promoting socio-economic integration, restoring security and building social cohesion.  

UNDP also highlighted the need for better data and research. 

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