- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Violence and natural disasters have driven more people from their homes around the world than live in New York City this year, setting up 2017 to bear the worst internal displacement record yet, according to a report released Wednesday by a Geneva-based research organization.

More than 9 million people have been displaced within their countries’ borders between January and June of 2017, said the report, released by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. Of those people, 4.6 million have been displaced by conflict, already two-thirds of the 6.9 million who were displaced by conflict in all of 2016.

The Democratic Republic of Congo tops the list of countries whose violence is ousting citizens from their homes: 997,000 people have been displaced by political and economic crises within the country this year, raising the African nation’s total number of conflict-driven internal displacements to 3.7 million.

Military clashes with the Islamic State, particularly in Mosul, put Iraq next on the list with 922,000 internally-displaced citizens. In Syria, ongoing civil war displaced another 692,000 so far this year.

The Philippines, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and other African and Middle Eastern nations have witnessed hundreds of thousands of conflict-driven internal displacements in 2017 as well.

Natural disasters have prompted 4.5 million internal displacements this year, the report said. Floods in southern China and a cyclone in Bangladesh wreaked the most havoc, each displacing more than 850,000 people. Similar disasters in Asia, Africa and the Americas displaced thousands, including a flood at California’s Oroville Dam in February, which displaced 188,000.

The IDMC warned that natural disaster-driven displacements will likely shoot up drastically as hurricane season in the Americas and flood seasons in Asia arrive in the next few weeks.

More must be done to counter the effects of seasonal disasters, the organization said.

“This shows us that seasonal, to be expected, weather patterns still result in large numbers of new displacements year after year, clearly illustrating that we are not investing enough in reducing vulnerability and exposure,” said Bina Desai, head of policy and research at IDMC, in a statement.

In 2016, disasters displaced 24.2 million of 31.1 million people who were internally displaced in total.

There are twice as many internally-displaced people as refugees, according to the report.

“Despite its global scale, the issue of internal displacement remains largely overshadowed, particularly with the current global focus and public attention on refugees and migrants,” the IDMC said.

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