Weather-related Disasters And Conflict Displace 14.6 Million; COVID-19 Exacerbates, Compounds Tragedies

24 Sep 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
GENEVA, Switzerland

An estimated 14.6 million new internal displacements occurred in the first half of 2020, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has reported.

Weather-related disasters accounted for about 9.8 million new displacements. Cyclone Amphan affected about 3.3 million in India and Bangladesh. With the destruction of an estimated 2.8 million homes in West Bengal, the agency suggests that these will turn into “extended” displacements.

Some affected by disasters are reluctant to leave their homes due to fear associated with contracting COVID-19.

Weather-related disasters in 2020 are anticipated to contribute to additional displacement.

The mid-year report highlights the convergence of a number of influences that have combined to worsen already serious situations. In Yemen, the humanitarian crisis deepened due to ongoing conflict, high COVID-19 infection rates and extreme flooding.

The agency reports that about 4.8 million cases are attributable to conflict and violence, an increase of about 1 million over the same period in 2019. Of significance are movement in Africa and the Middle East with Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso responsible for the greatest change. Most of this movement is attributed to the expansion of armed groups, especially in Burkina Faso.

Cameroon, Mozambique, Niger and Somalia also reported more displacement in the first half of 2020 than in all of 2019.

“The staggering figures recorded in the first six months of the year are testament to the persistent volatility of displacement crises worldwide,” said IDMC’s director, Alexandra Bilak. “Compounding this is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reduced access to health care and increased economic hardship and protection risks for displaced communities.”

“It is extremely worrying to report numbers this high so early in the year, particularly as we know that the majority of weather-related hazards in 2020 are still to come,” said Bilak. “Our report confirms once more that the international community must support governments in reversing these trends and finding long-term solutions to displacement.”