According to the UN OCHA’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, “internally displaced persons [IDPs] are persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.” IDPs remain within their own country – even when that government is responsible for their displacement. They may be unwilling or unable – physically or financially – to leave their homeland and instead migrate within their country to another area.

Refugees are different from internally displaced people who, while also forcibly displaced from their homes, cross an international border. They are also different from migrants who choose to travel to another country for work, education or to reunite with family.

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), “Millions of people are forced to flee their homes or places of habitual residence each year, including in the context of conflict, violence, development projects, disasters and climate change, and remain displaced within their countries of residence. Millions more live in situations of protracted displacement or face chronic displacement risk. As of the end of 2018, 41.3 million people were living in internal displacement because of conflict and violence. These numbers show that internal displacement is a crisis of enormous proportion and yet, the world is largely unaware.”

In 2018, 28 million people were new displacements, associated with conflict and disasters. Of these, 10.8 million were from conflict while 17.2 million were from disasters. Disasters therefore represent nearly two-thirds of new displacements. Of the disaster displacements, 16.1 million were weather-related disasters (i.e. storms, floods, extreme temperature, drought) while 1.1 million were geo-physical (i.e. earthquakes, volcanic eruption). The countries with the largest number of disaster-related new displacements were the Philippines and China at 3.8 million people each; India, at 2.7 million and the United States at 1.2 million. A study by IDMC in 2015 showed substantial numbers of people still displaced 5-10 years after significant earthquakes (Haiti), cyclones (Bangladesh), volcanic eruptions (Papa New Guinea) and other natural disasters. It is unknown how many people remain displaced overall because of disasters.

Read the full article about internally displaced persons at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.