IDPs and Conflict: episode 5

The airstrip area displacement site in the Somali region of Ethiopia The airstrip area displacement site in the Somali region of Ethiopia © IOM / Rikka Tupaz

In Focus by Camilla Lavino

According to the IDMC, internal displacement associated with conflict and violence has increased in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. In fact, 4.6 million conflict-induced new displacements were recorded in 2019, accounting for nearly 54 per cent of the global total (IDMC, 2020). 

Overall, Sub-Saharan Africa was the most affected region by conflict displacement in 2019 (IDMC, 2020). Armed conflict, communal violence and jihadist attacks exacerbated the situation of several countries in the region which were already struggling with protracted and pre-existent crises. As a result, the fifth episode of the “IDPs and Conflict” series aims to bring the attention to the internal displacement situation in four of its sub-regions: Western Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa and South Africa. 

In Western Africa, the deteriorating security situation in Burkina Faso resulted to be particularly concerning in 2019. In fact, Jihadist militant and the homegrown groups launched near-daily attacks, causing an unmatched 513,000 new displacements (IDMC, 2020). Similarly, conflict and violence endured across Nigeria last year and triggered 248,000 new displacements (IDMC, 2020---9. Similarly, Mali and Niger were still afflicted by violence and armed groups which contribute to exacerbate the internal displacement situation in the region. 

Central Africa’s events were dominated by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which resulted to be the region’s most affected country by internal displacement in 2019 due to local grievances, ethnic tensions and chronic poverty. Additionally, nearly 1.7 million new conflict displacements were registered in 2019, compared with more than 1.8 million in 2018 and 2.2 million in 2017 (IDMC, 2020). 

Eastern Africa instead reported mixed situations. Ethiopia experienced a considerable decrease in the number of new displacements - from 2.9 million in 2018 to over a million in 2019 (IDMC, 2020). Nonetheless, several IDPs still live in insecure and inhospitable areas with little or no access to humanitarian assistance or basic services.  Conflict and violence in Somalia instead prompted 188,000 new displacements in 2019 - primarily in the south-east where the al-Shabaab militia has its basis (IDMC, 2020). 

Finally, in South Africa, Kenneth caused around 24,000 new displacements in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, where its impact was exacerbated by a mounting conflict between jihadist militias and government forces (IDMC, 2020). Moreover, more than 160 attacks occurred in 2019, compared with 60 in 2018 and six in 2017 which further worsened the situation. 

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