World

Over 31 million people uprooted in 2016

LONDON:More than 31 million people were uprooted in their home countries last year because of conflicts and disasters, and numbers will grow unless the underlying causes like climate change and political turmoil are tackled, an aid group said yesterday.

Nearly 7 million people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, were displaced because of conflicts, according to data by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), which is part of aid agency Norwegian Refugee Council.

A further 24 million people, mainly in Asia, were forced to flee to another area of the country because of a natural disaster, such as storms, floods and wildfires, IDMC said in a report.

Unlike refugees, who seek asylum in other countries, internally displaced people (IDPs) remain in their own country and can't claim international protection, IDMC says.

For this reason, IDPs are often overlooked until humanitarian crises spill across borders, said IDMC's director Alexandra Bilak. "It can easily fall off the agenda because national governments, in some cases, don't want to acknowledge it and certainly don't want anyone externally to start looking into the affairs in their sovereign state," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In 2016, conflicts uprooted the most people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 922,000 fleeing their homes.- REUTERS

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