A new report says the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had the highest number of people displaced by conflict in the world in 2016.
The report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center of the Norwegian Refugee Council found that over 922,000 Congolese fled their homes last year alone.
The figure was the highest of internal displacement resulting from conflict recorded globally.
The DRC figure was more than Syria which had 824,000 displaced people and Iraq with 659,000 displaced people in the same year.
“DRC’s largely forgotten crisis in central Africa superseded all other crises in terms of number of people forced to flee their homes,” said Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in the DRC.
The report also found that political insecurity in the DRC aggravated long-standing ethnic tensions and clashes between armed groups in 2016 particularly in the North and South Kivu provinces in the east of the country.
An estimated 3.7 million people are internally displaced in the DRC to date. Of the 3,7 million displaced people, over 1 million are newly displaced since the start of 2017 after violent clashes in the Kasai province.
According to the report, more than 31 million people were displaced in their own countries in 2016 by conflict, violence and disasters.
Nigeria ranked fifth in terms of displacement caused by conflict with 501,000 followed by Yemen with 478,000.
Out of the 6.9 million people driven from their homes by conflict, 2.6 million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.
China on the other hand, topped the list of new displacements due to disasters with 7.4 million people driven from their homes, followed by the Philippines with 5.9 million, India with 2.4 million and Indonesia with 1.2 million.
Disasters displaced three times more people than conflicts, with most of the 24 million people affected hit by sudden-onset weather hazards such as floods, storms, wildfires and severe winter conditions.
The displacements are expected to increase in the future as the impact of climate change becomes more acute, the report said.
Head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland, said the shocking figures show the need to focus as much on people displaced inside their countries than on refugees who flee across borders.
“Internally displaced people now outnumber refugees by two to one. It is urgent to put internal displacement back on the global agenda,” he said.