DISASTERS, CONFLICT DISPLACE 2.7 MLN PEOPLE IN AFRICA IN 2017, SAYS NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL
Last Updated: 2017-12-07
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NAIROBI, Dec 7 (NNN-XINHUA) -- Conflict, violence or disasters in Africa have displaced 2.7 million people who have not crossed an international border since January, according to a new report released here by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), which notes that 15,000 people are displaced every day inside African countries.

The charity said some 997,000 new internal displacements resulting from conflict were reported in the first half of 2017 reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), more than in the whole of 2016, while 206,000 were reported in the Central African Republic (CAR), 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," says the IDMC report, which calls on the development sector to join humanitarian players in preventing and reducing internal displacement and finding long-term solutions for the millions of people affected.

"As the world focuses its attention on preventing irregular migration and protecting refugees coming out of Africa, the displacement that happens behind its own borders persists at an alarming rate," the charity said.

IDMC director Alexandra Bilak says this dire and 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," says Bilak.

He says the national actors and development agencies need to ensure that emergency responses are complemented by prevention and longer-term support. "In countries with high numbers of people living in protracted displacement, focusing on helping them rebuild their lives will allow progress toward many of the global Sustainable Development Goals," Bilak says.

The report says the majority of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are in countries with low capacity to cope and weak governance, live in conditions of extreme vulnerability, and are often at risk of further upheaval and long-term impoverishment. This, the charity says, is the case for many of the 12.6 million Africans living in displacement as at the end of 2016.

The report says conflict caused 75 per cent of Africa's new displacement in the first half of 2017, and 70 per cent in 2016. The 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.

"To reverse this trend, we must focus on preventing and reducing the risk of new displacement and this can only happen by taking early action on conflict prevention and peace-building, and overall economic and political development," Bilak says.

The situation is similar for displacement associated with disasters where the report calls for effective risk reduction measures to reduce the impact of disasters, the number of people they displace and the length of time it takes them to re-build their lives.

"Such measures can also lessen people's vulnerability to repeated displacement, particularly during slow-onset crises such as drought, which are set to become more frequent in the future as a result of climate change," the charity says.

The charity does not record displacement caused by slow-onset disasters and development projects, and the number of people who remain displaced for months and years following sudden-onset disas­ters such as storms and floods is unknown.
-- NNN-XINHUA