According to a U.N.-endorsed report from the Norwegian Refugee Council, 38 million people were displaced by conflicts around the world in 2014, including 2.2 million Iraqis forced from their homes by the rise of the Islamic State.
“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians” said Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, as quoted by the Associated Press.
The Iraqi contingent was the largest group of displaced persons reported from a single country for the year. Looking at aggregate totals, Syria has the highest number of displaced individuals, totaling 7.6 million from five years of civil war. Fully 35 percent of that war-torn nation’s populace is considered displaced.
Boko Haram contributed another 975,300 from its Nigerian turf. Sadly, Europe was back at the top of the charts for the first time in a decade, as 646,500 people were displaced by the war in Ukraine. All eyes are now turned nervously to the avalanche of refugees preparing to cross the Mediterranean from Libya, a migration already viewed as a humanitarian disaster even though it’s still ramping up.
At the U.N. News Center, NRC Secretary-General Egeland describes the report as “a tremendous wake-up call,” declaring that “we must break this trend where millions of men, women and children are becoming trapped in conflict zones around the world.”
The report’s authors note that not only does the number of displaced persons increase as conflicts grind on, but the same people begin moving between temporary lodgings and refugee camps multiple times, and suffer through protracted periods of displacement.