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  • Create Date November 26, 2021
  • Last Updated December 5, 2021

Assessing the Severity of Internal Displacement, 2021 Report

Following a difficult year, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and its toll on human security and economic stability, we have seen a heightened level of displacement severity. The number of people internally displaced by conflict and disasters and the complexity of internal displacement crises across the world have continued to grow. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) recorded 55 million internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide at the end of 2020, the highest figure ever reported.1 Knowing these numbers, however, is not enough to provide IDPs with adequate support.

With this in mind, IDMC started assessing the severity of the conditions in which IDPs live in 2019. Given that their experience and resulting needs differ significantly across displacement situations, the severity assessments draw attention to situations of particular concern and highlight key challenges to IDPs’ safety and well-being. Our most recent assessment shows displacement severity worsening across all dimensions examined, but particularly livelihoods.

This is unsurprising given the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated movement restrictions, which have limited IDPs’ ability to engage in gainful employment. Loss of income has also exposed many IDPs to the risk of eviction. The pandemic has had a negative impact on IDPs’ access to services. Many schools, for example, have been forced to close to curb the spread of the virus. The drop in service provision, however, should not be attributed solely to the pandemic. Access to services has deteriorated the sharpest in Libya, where many schools have been targeted by violence.

The present severity assessment, conducted between October and December 2020, assesses the conditions of people internally displaced by conflict in different countries and contexts. In some cases, all IDPs in a country may experience similar levels of severity. In others, where there are multiple displacement situations, the conditions of different groups of IDPs may vary, and they are therefore evaluated separately. Finding new sources of data became more difficult in 2020, as the pandemic resulted in decreased reporting on internal displacement.

These data gaps make it harder to assess displacement severity in certain contexts. For that reason, some groups of IDPs may be excluded from the assessment. At the same time, due to a deterioration in security conditions in many parts of West and Southern Africa, humanitarian actors stepped up their efforts to document the living conditions of IDPs. Despite the pandemic, new data has become available on previously under-reported countries, such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. It is important to note that the severity assessment analyses the living conditions of IDPs in their current area of displacement.

It does not compare the situation of IDPs with their experience prior to their displacement or with the conditions of host communities. As such, the severity assessment should not be used as a tool to compare the situation of IDPs with that of other groups. The severity assessment aims to provide qualitative data which can support governments, humanitarian organisations and other key stakeholders in identifying situations of concern and monitoring progress in responding to displacement. It should be used as an entry point for further analysis that can support informed decision-making and investments in durable solutions