Norwegian Refugee Council

Number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has grown 50% in last five years; Conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Palestine accounted for nearly two-thirds of new conflict movements in 2023; 3.4 million new movements in the Gaza Strip in the last quarter of 2023, leaving 1.7 million internally displaced by the end of the year. 

Conflict and violence in Sudan, Palestine and elsewhere drove the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) around the world to 75.9 million at the end of 2023, a new record, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), which published its annual Global Report on Internal Displacement today. Of the total, 68.3 million were displaced by conflict and violence and 7.7 million by disasters. Almost half, 46 per cent, of all IDPs live in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Sudan, the 9.1m people displaced at the end of the year was the most ever recorded in a single country since records began in 2008. Sudan’s 6 million internal displacements, or forced movements, by conflict during 2023 were more than its previous 14 years combined and the second most ever recorded in one country after Ukraine’s 16.9 million in 2022. In the Gaza Strip, IDMC calculated 3.4 million displacements in the last three months of 2023, which was 17 per cent of total conflict displacements worldwide during the year.

Alexandra Bilak, IDMC director, said the millions of people forced to flee in 2023 were just the “tip of the iceberg”, adding to the tens of millions of IDPs already displaced from previous and ongoing conflicts, violence and disasters.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen alarming new levels of people having to flee their homes due to conflict and violence, even in regions where the trend had been improving,” said Ms Bilak. “Conflict, and the devastation it leaves behind, is keeping millions from re-building their lives, often for years on end.”

In the past five years, the number of people living in internal displacement as a result of conflict and violence has increased by 22.6 million, or 49 per cent, with the two biggest increases in 2022 and 2023.

“Millions of families are having their lives torn apart by conflict and violence. We have never, ever recorded so many people forced away from their homes and communities. It is a damning verdict on the failures of conflict prevention and peace-making,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The suffering and the displacement last far beyond the news cycle. Too often their fate ends up in silence and neglect. The lack of protection and assistance that millions endure cannot be allowed to continue.”

Floods, storms, earthquakes, wildfires and other disasters triggered 26.4 million displacements in 2023, the third highest annual total in the past ten years. The 7.7 million IDPs at the end of 2023 displaced by disasters is the second most since IDMC began recording this metric in 2019.

The 148 countries and territories reporting disaster displacement include high-income countries such as Canada and New Zealand which reported their highest figures ever. Climate change is making some hazards more frequent and intense, such as cyclone Mocha in the Indian Ocean, Hurricane Otis in Mexico, storm Daniel in the Mediterranean and wildfires in Canada and Greece last summer. It is also making communities more vulnerable and addressing the underlying drivers of displacement more urgent. 

“No country is immune to disaster displacement,” said Ms Bilak. “But we can see a difference in how displacement affects people in countries that prepare and plan for its impacts and those that don’t. Those that look at the data and make prevention, response and long-term development plans that consider displacement fare far better.”

As in previous years, floods and storms caused the most disaster displacement, including in south-eastern Africa where cyclone Freddy triggered 1.4 million movements across six countries and territories. Earthquakes and volcanic activity triggered 6.1 million displacements in 2023, as many as in the past seven years combined. The earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria triggered 4.7 million displacements, one of the largest disaster displacement events since records began in 2008.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Norwegian Refugee Council.