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Africa: Internal Displacement Update
Apr 20, 2008 (080420)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
In 2007, close to half of the 26 million internally displaced
people worldwide were in 20 African countries, according to the
annual survey released on April 17 by the Internal Displacement
Monitoring Centre (IDMC) of the Norwegian Refugee Council. The
countries most affected by new displacement in 2007 were Iraq,
Somalia, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), while
the countries with the highest totals of displaced people were
Sudan, Colombia, Iraq, the DRC, and Uganda.
Within Africa, Sudan had the largest total number of displaced
people, estimated at 5.8 million, while Somalia had the largest
number newly displaced in 2007, estimated at 600,000.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains brief excerpts from the overview
and Africa chapter of the IDMC's report. The full report is
available on the IDMC website (http://www.internal-displacement.org).
For additional sources on many of the countries mentioned, see the
AfricaFocus country section at
Also in this AfricaFocus Bulletin: brief listings of recent
articles commenting on crises in Somalia and Zimbabwe, and links to
two recent publications by AfricaFocus editor William Minter.
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@Editor's Picks: Crisis Updates@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Newsweek April 12, 2008
"Washington wanted to keep Somalia from turning into another
Afghanistan. Now It's an African Iraq"
Pambazuka News April 17, 2008
"Black America and Zimbabwe: Silence is not an answer",
including "Black Africa must not be silent," by Bill Fletcher, BlackCommentor
"Justice for Zimbabwe: A Message of Solidarity," from Imani Countess,
Independent Online (South Africa) April 19, 2008
"We Need Food, Not Guns" - South African unions block Chinese arms ship
Mmegi/The Reporter (Botswana) April 15, 2008
"Is Thabo Mbeki Still in Touch with Reality?"
Zimbabwe Independnt April 16, 2008
"Crisis, What Crisis?"
Business Day, April 19, 2008
"C is for 'crisis' and 'civil society' by Aubrey Matshiqi
AllAfrica.Blog April 19, 2008
"Govt Sources Confirm Terror Campaign"
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@End Editor's Picks: Crisis Updates@@@@@@@@@
@@@@@@@@@@Recent Publications by AfricaFocus Editor@@@@@@@@@@@
April, 2008 - Migration and Global Justice
Pamphlet written for American Friends Service Committee.
Available in html (http://www.africafocus.org/editor/afsc0804.php)
and pdf (http://www.africafocus.org/editor/afsc0804.pdf)
December, 2007 - "The Armored Bubble: Military Memoirs from Apartheid's Warriors"
Book review in African Studies Review.
Available in html (http://www.africafocus.org/editor/asr0712.php)
and pdf (http://www.africafocus.org/editor/asr0712.pdf).
@@@@@@@@@End Recent Publications by AfricaFocus Editor@@@@@@@@@@
Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2007
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
Norwegian Refugee Council
[excerpts from findings, overview, and Africa chapter]
Findings of the report
In 2007, the estimated number of people internally displaced as a
result of armed conflicts and violence passed the 26 million mark.
This is the highest figure since the early 1990s, and marks a six
per cent increase from the 2006 figure of 24.5 million. The
increase resulted from a combination of continued high level of new
displacements (3.7 million) and a lower level of return movements
(2.7 million) in 2007.
At the end of 2007, Africa hosted almost half of the global IDP
population (12.7 million) and generated nearly half of the world's
newly displaced (1.6 million). Somalia and the Democratic Republic
of the Congo were the African countries worst affected by new
internal displacement in 2007.
Most forced internal displacement in the last decade was caused by
internal rather than international armed conflicts. This trend
continued in 2007. ... Many of the worst new displacement crises,
including in Iraq, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and
Sudan (Darfur) took place in countries where long-standing armed
conflicts deteriorated during 2007.
Often the most vulnerable as a result of conflict, internally
displaced people frequently fell victim to the gravest human rights
abuses. They were exposed to attacks, arbitrary arrest and
detention, and had limited access to food, water, health care and
shelter. Most or all IDPs in Central African Republic, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia (Gambella and Somali regions),
Iraq, Somalia and Sudan (Darfur) were persistently faced with such
abuses. Displaced women and girls were at increased risk of sexual
violence, including rape and exploitation. Perpetrators often
enjoyed impunity for these violations. IDP women and girls were
also exposed to signilicant health risks due to their lack of
access to reproductive and maternal health care in areas of
Although international attention to the plight of IDPs continued to
grow, there was no breakthrough in reducing the number of IDPs or
measurably improving their situation. Displacement, in the words of
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, remained "arguably the most
signilicant humanitarian challenge that we face".
Global Developments: IDPs at serious risk
It is difficult to compare the severity of IDPs' situations in
different countries, considering the diversity of the threats to
their safety and wellbeing. ...
However, in seven situations (listed in alphabetical order), most
or all IDPs faced recurrent and serious security and humanitarian
risks : Central African Republic, DRC, Ethiopia (Gambella), Iraq,
Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan (Darfur)
Countries most affected by new conflict-induced displacement (and
estimated numbers displaced in 2007)
Five countries with most IDPs
Sudan (5.8 million)
Columbia (up to 4 million)
Iraq (2.5 million)
DRC (1.4 million)
Uganda (1.3 million)
Internal Displacement in Africa
At the end of 2007, there were around 12.7 million IDPs in Africa,
close to half of the people forcibly displaced worldwide. During
the year, 1.6 million people were newly displaced across the
continent, the highest number in any of the regions discussed in
this report, as new or continuing armed conflicts and generalised
violence caused displacement in 13 countries.
In 2007, close to half of the people displaced worldwide by
conflict were in Africa, spread across 20 countries. The
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and Sudan were
among the five countries with most new displacements, while DRC,
Somalia and Uganda each hosted a million or more IDPs by the end
of the year. 5.8 million were forcibly displaced within Sudan's
borders, in southern Sudan, Darfur and the capital Khartoum. Most
IDPs were in Sub-Saharan Africa, where nine high-intensity violent
conflicts were ongoing as governments and non-state actors battled
for national, regional or local power and resources. In many
areas, absence of state structures and pervasive lawlessness
combined to expose IDPs, and particularly women and children
among them, to extremes of violence and abuse.
Nonetheless, a number of countries with large displaced
populations witnessed a year of peace following earlier conflict,
and the long-term prospects of durable solutions for IDPs in
Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia and other countries improved. The
millions of people displaced by Angola's long civil war could by
2007 be finally considered as "former IDPs" who shared the same
recovery challenges as the rest of the population. However, the
examples of all these countries showed that across Africa,
national contexts of poverty, adverse climate and scarcity of
resources, political instability and weak governance and justice
systems make the end of displacement and the rebuilding of IDPs
lives an enormous challenge for affected individuals and for
those responsible for their protection and assistance.
The international community continued and in some areas
intensified efforts to address displacement caused by conflict and
violence across the region. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of
people in several countries were displaced for the first time
during 2007, and there were no significant improvements in the
situations of millions more who were already victims of internal
Situations with new displacement
Somalia had the largest number of newly displaced people, with
around 600,000 people forced to flee during 2007 (including
200,000 in November alone) as the Transitional Federal Government
and its Ethiopian allies and the insurgents of the Islamic Courts
Union (ICU) battled for power in Mogadishu. Following sustained
bombardment and street battles, the number displaced from the city
and other areas of Somalia rose to one million people.
Sudan had the largest IDP population in the world, with 5.8
million people forcibly displaced within its borders. In Sudan’s
Darfur region, over 280,000 people fled the fighting during 2007
as the security situation continued to deteriorate. 2007 ended with
continuing clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces and armed rebel
groups including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and
escalating tension between the governments of Sudan and Chad. The
conflict had over five years forced over two million people to
seek refuge in camps within Darfur, while a further quarter of a
million had fled over the border into Chad. The huge IDP camps in
Darfur were increasingly overcrowded and insecure, and
humanitarian access remained severely limited ; during 2007, IDPs
were in some cases forced to flee camps for their own safety and
on occasion forcibly relocated by government forces. The year
ended with the handover of peacekeeping authority from the African
Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the “hybrid” United
Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
In Chad, the number of IDPs increased from 100,000 at the end of
2006 to nearly 180,000 a year later. Intensive fighting between
the army and a number of rebel groups continued through the year,
while cross-border raids by Sudanese militias, and spiralling
inter-communal violence all contributed to the increasing
insecurity and forced more civilians to abandon their villages.
In Ethiopia's Somali Region, conflict between the government and
the Ogaden National Liberation Front forced an unknown number of
people to flee their homes. Elsewhere in the country, in Gambella,
Oromiya, SNNPR and Tigray Regions, it is believed that at least
200,000 conflict-related IDPs were living in camps and informal
Other countries which already had displaced populations saw
continuing smaller-scale violence which led their number to
increase. In Burundi, some 100,000 people remained in the IDP
sites where they had been living for years because of continuing
economic insecurity and violence in their areas of origin.
Meanwhile, a branch of the Front National de Libération (FNL)
rebel group continued to launch sporadic attacks around the
capital Bujumbura, and an estimated 4,000 people were temporarily
displaced in mid-2007, while in October an unknown number of
villagers around the capital were displaced during an army
offensive. In Zimbabwe, new farm invasions and forced evictions in
urban areas displaced an unknown number of people, adding to the
estimated 570,000 people displaced by forced evictions in 2005 and
the hundreds of thousands who lost their homes as a result of the
fast-track land reform programme which started in 2000.
Kenya and Nigeria experienced political and intercommunal
violence, notably related to elections, in 2007. The year ended
with the displacement of around 100,000 people in Kenya in the
immediate aftermath of the contested outcome of the December
presidential election ; the figure quickly rose further during the
first days of 2008. They joined the estimated 100,000 Kenyan IDPs
already living in makeshift settlements, slums and abandoned
buildings, and their displacement served as a reminder of the
fragility of the ethnic and social balance in what has long been
considered one of Africa’s most prosperous and stable states.
In Nigeria, the April 2007 general elections were considered as an
opportunity to help resolve internal confl icts. However the
Nigerian Red Cross reported that localised violence caused the
displacement of around 4,500 people. In July, fighting over a
protracted land dispute between indigenous groups and settlers in
the border area between Benue, Taraba and Cross River States left
possibly more than 3,000 people temporarily displaced, while.
escalating tensions between local communities, national and local
governments and oil companies in the Niger Delta region also
caused new displacement.
Violence against displaced women and girls
The impact of displacement on the security and integrity of women
and girls was huge. In Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi, Somalia,
Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, women bore the brunt of conflicts and
violent environments. With the burden of care resting with the
mother following the separation of families, women were frequently
forced into begging or prostitution, while displaced girls were
hired out for child labour or forced into early marriage.
Displaced women and children continued to endure sexual violence,
at the hands of opportunists taking advantage of an environment of
conflict and lawlessness, or of combatants seeking to shame and
break up family units and communities. Fear of sexual violence
itself caused displacement as people fled to avoid
sexuallymotivated attacks. The widespread sexual violence reported
in DRC was an extreme but perhaps not a unique example. In DRC,
54,000 victims of sexual violence were identified from 2004 to
March 2007, of whom 16 per cent were children. Many were raped
while displaced by government troops, rebels loyal to General
Nkunda or militias : in the first half of 2007, over 2,000 cases
of rape were reported in North Kivu and 4,500 in South Kivu. Most
rapes took place within IDP sites and camps or on the outskirts of
villages in a context of total impunity. There was also widespread
use of rape as an instrument of war in Darfur. The under-resourced
African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) remained unable to prevent
widespread sexual violence against women displaced into camps and
forced to move gradually further to collect firewood.
Human Rights Watch reported in January 2007 on sexual violence in
eastern Chad, whether "opportunistic, with attackers attacking
women when they are in the fields [or] in the context of broader
armed attacks". Their findings were likely to reflect
under-reporting of sexual violence, as survivors are very often
ashamed or otherwise unable to come forward to seek help.
In CAR, 12 per cent of women declared that they had survived
sexual violence, while well over 15 per cent of women and girls
endured gender-based violence in some conflict-affected areas in
the north of the country. In Liberia, returning IDPs remained
vulnerable, particularly teenage mothers, children and young
girls, and a 2007 survey in displacement-affected Lofa county
showed that over 60 per cent of women had been exposed to violence
by intimate partners at some point in their lives. While positive
steps were taken, with the adoption in December 2005 of new
legislation that made rape illegal for the first time,
gender-based violence was still rampant, mainly due to a
persistent culture of impunity for sexual violence, and a judicial
system which remained ineffective.
Access to food
IDPs in conflict areas faced serious difficulties in accessing
food and ensuring food security. In a number of countries,
insecurity impeding the access of humanitarian agencies further
impaired their access to food assistance and other services.
For instance in Darfur, the UN estimated in May 2007 that 566,000
of the 4.1 million conflict-affected people were beyond the reach
of humanitarian assistance. Consequently, malnutrition among IDPs
passed emergency levels of global acute malnutrition and in 2007
child malnutrition rates reached emergency levels for the first
time in three years. Access for humanitarian organisations
worsened during 2007, until up to one million IDPs were out of
reach of urgently needed assistance. In Somalia, a survey carried
out in November 2007 among the IDP populations in Afgoye and
Merca showed critical levels of malnutrition, in a region where 15
per cent of children under five already faced a high risk of
starvation. In Cote d'Ivoire malnutrition rates remained high,
especially in landlocked areas and where roadblocks and
checkpoints prevented free movement.
AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
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