Syria war forces a family to flee every minute

2014-05-14 15:34


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Geneva - The war in Syria is driving one family from their home every minute, pushing the number of people internally displaced by conflict to record highs globally, a report said on Wednesday.

The study by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said that 33.3 million people were displaced by violence in their own nations last year.

The report showed that just five countries accounted for two-thirds of the tally: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Internally displaced people (IDPs) are those who flee their homes but do not leave their country, as opposed to those who cross a border and are counted as refugees.

While the bulk of the 33.3 million were people who had already fled before 2013 - including some displaced over a decade ago - the total of new IDPs reached 8.2 million by the end of the year, the report said.

Of those, nearly half were in Syria.

Camps inadequate

With 9 500 people a day - approximately one family every 60 seconds - being displaced inside Syria, the country remains the largest and fastest evolving displacement crisis in the world.

"The IDMC report reveals a frightening reality of life inside Syria, now the largest internal displacement crisis in the world," said former UN aid chief Jan Egeland, who now runs the Norwegian Refugee Council, of which the IMDC is part.

"Not only do armed groups control the areas where internal displacement camps are located, these camps are badly managed, provide inadequate shelter, sanitation and limited aid delivery," he said in a statement.

In addition, the report said, large concentrations of IDPs have been particularly targeted by artillery bombardments and airstrikes.

After Syria, the two countries experiencing the worst levels of new displacement were the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The report also said that 3.3 million Nigerians have been displaced by conflict in their homeland, mostly linked to an insurgency in the north by Islamist group Boko Haram.

"This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analysing displacement back in the late 90s," said Egeland.

"The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue," he added. 

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