Amman: A major aid agency said on Wednesday that 27.8 million people around the world were internally displaced by conflicts and natural disasters last year, calling it a global crisis.
That’s as many as the combined populations of New York City, London, Paris and Cairo — or an average of 66,000 people displaced every day in 2015.
A report by the Norwegian Refugee Council said that 8.6 million of last year’s internally displaced were uprooted by conflict, more than half of them in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
The group says Yemen alone accounted for one quarter of conflict-related displacement worldwide last year, with 2.2 million people uprooted, or 20 times more than in 2014.
Yemen was followed by Syria with 1.3 million displaced and Iraq with 1.1 million, the report said.
The group’s Middle East director, Carsten Hansen, said that while the world’s attention was focused on Middle Eastern refugees, or those who fled their homelands, millions were displaced internally in the region.
“While richer, stable countries have been scheming to keep asylum seekers out of their borders and deny them protection, millions remain trapped in their own countries with death ... just around the corner,” he said.
The total of those internally displaced by conflict in the world now stands at 40.8 million, including the newly displaced 8.6 million last year.
“This is the highest number ever recorded, and twice the number of refugees worldwide,” said Jan Egeland, the head of the NRC.
“Displacement ... has snowballed since the Arab spring uprising in 2010 and the rise of Daesh,” said the report, with Yemen, Syria and Iraq accounting for more than half of the total.
Outside the Middle East, the countries with the highest numbers of people fleeing were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Ukraine.
The report also said 19.2 million people were internally displaced last year by disasters. India, China and Nepal accounted for the highest numbers with 3.7 million, 3.6 million and 2.6 million.
Out of the top ten countries for IDPs, the report found that five — Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan — have featured on the same ranking every year since 2003.
The report also for the first time measured the numbers displaced by criminal violence associated with drug trafficking and gang activity — a problem it said remained “unquantified and unaddressed”.
It estimated that there were a million IDPs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico as of December 2015 as a result of this type of violence.