Conflict and violence around the world have displaced a record 38 million people inside their own countries, a new report says.
The figures published by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) were described as the worst in a generation. Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria had the most newly displaced people.
Jan Egeland, the NRC’s secretary general, said the figures should act as a wake-up call to political leaders. “Global diplomats, UN resolutions, peace talks and ceasefire agreements have lost the battle against ruthless armed men who are driven by political or religious interests rather than human imperatives,” he said in a statement.
The NRC’s annual Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) report said Syria had the highest number of internally displaced people – people who remain in their homeland, as opposed to refugees, who cross borders.
It said 7.6 million people had left their homes because of the conflict, now in its fifth year – at least 35% of the population. Ukraine, which has seen fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces, appeared in the report for the first time, with 646,500 people internally displaced there in 2014.
Last year, the UN said the number of people living as refugees from war or persecution had exceeded 50 million for the first time since World War Two.
The total number of people affected worldwide dwarfs the figures seen at the peak of the Darfur crisis in 2004, the violence in Iraq in the mid-2000s, and in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, the IDMC said.
Aid agencies said the international community must invest much more in conflict prevention, and in support for the displaced.