The world focuses its attention on preventing irregular migration and protecting refugees coming out of Africa, yet the displacement that happens within African nations own borders persists and is ignored. Conflict caused 75 per cent of Africa's new displacement in the first half of 2017, and 70 per cent in 2016. DRC, Nigeria and South Sudan are regularly among the five countries worst affected. East Africa, where displacement is often driven by protracted and cyclical conflicts such as those in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, bears the brunt of the crisis in regional terms.
Since the beginning of 2017, 2.7 million people have been displaced by conflict, violence or disasters, and have not crossed an international border. In the first half of the year, 997,000 new internal displacements due to conflict were reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), more than in the whole of 2016, and 206,000 in the Central African Republic, four times the figure for the previous year.
Behind the numbers lie the blighted lives of people forced to leave their homes, often at a moment's notice and in the most traumatic of circumstances, and receiving little protection and assistance from their governments. In countries with low coping capacity and weak governance, the majority of people internally displaced live in conditions of extreme vulnerability, and are often at risk of further upheaval and long-term impoverishment. This is the case for many of the 12.6 million Africans living in displacement as of the end of 2016.
These numbers does not include those who have fled across borders to seek refuge, with UN figures showing there were more than 5.6 million refugees in Africa by end of last year.
"This dire and clearly worsening situation demands a new approach that goes beyond humanitarian action to address the causes and long-term implications of internal displacement. Every case is much more than a personal tragedy; displacement threatens to undermine the achievement of Africa's broader development objectives," said IDMC's director, Alexandra Bilak.