There are more than 40.8 million people around the world on the run within their own countries, according to recent figures by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, (IDMC).
Nearly one third of these displaced people are on the African continent. At the end of 2015, 12.4 million people in 21 African countries were living in ongoing displacement as a result of conflict and violence.
A little acknowledged issue, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) across Africa is more than twice as many as the continent’s total refugee population of 5.4 million, which only accounts for those who have crossed national borders.
In the eyes of the law the internally displaced are different from refugees. Not having crossed any borders, IDPs remain under the jurisdiction of their state, while refugees fall under international humanitarian refugee laws.
“We are always flabbergasted at just how little people actually acknowledge this issue,” says Alexandra Bilak, Director at IDMC. “There are twice as many conflict IDPs as there are refugees in the world. The figures are quite staggering, the problem is far bigger.”
Nigeria tops the list of African countries with the most new displacements in 2015 when 737,000 uprooted. More recent figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that the situation is still dire, with 1.8 million people estimated to have been on the move at the end of 2016. Conflict and violence caused by the Boko Haram insurgency make up more than 90 percent of displacements, according to IOM.