More people have been displaced in their home countries by events like war, violence and natural disasters than at any other time in history, a new report said Friday.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said in its Global Report on Internal Displacement that 41.3 million people were displaced in 2018 — an increase of about 1 million over the previous year.
The report, produced by the NRC’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, said there were 28 million new displacements connected with conflict, general violence and disasters like earthquakes and weather events. The data covered persons displaced in their own countries, but not refugees.
Ongoing conflicts in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria accounted for nearly 11 million of the new displacements. The report said many who tried to return home found their homes destroyed, local infrastructure damaged and basic services out of order.
“This year’s report is a sad reminder of the recurrence of displacement, and of the severity and urgency of [the displaced’s] needs,” Alexandra Bilak, the center’s director, said in a statement. “Many of the same factors that drove people from their homes now prevent them from returning or finding solutions in the places they have settled.”
The study said displacement in urban areas is on the increase, with noted examples including Syria’s Dara’a, the Yemen port city of Hudaydah, and the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Syria has been engaged in civil war and the Yemeni government has been fighting Houthi rebels for several years. Libya has suffered from persistent internal conflict that led to the death of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
“The findings of this report are a wake-up call to world leaders,” NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland said in a statement. “Millions of people forced to flee their homes last year are being failed by ineffective national governance and insufficient international diplomacy.”
Friday’s report comes amid numerous efforts worldwide to return refugees to their native countries. The Middle East and North Africa offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in December they hope as many as 250,000 Syrians can return sometime this year, as fighting there has slowed.