As wars raged in 2014, an estimated 38 million people across the world were "forced to flee their homes by conflict and violence," setting a new record high for internal displacement, according to just-released figures compiled by the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).
"Never in the last 10 years of IDMC’s global reporting, have we reported such a high estimate for the number of people newly displaced in a year," said the organization, noting that their data indicate that, on average, 30,000 people fled their homes each day last year.
These figures, however, strictly reflect internal displacement—those who stay within state borders—and do not include refugees forced to leave their countries.
According to the IDMC's findings, 60 percent of people displaced last year hailed from five countries: Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria.
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At least 40 percent of Syria's population was displaced, the report shows, and Iraq suffered the greatest levels of new displacement, with 2.2. million people forced to flee their homes.
The revelations sparked alarm from United Nations, as well as NRC officials.
In a press conference on Wednesday, NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland declared: “This report should be a tremendous wake-up call. We must break this trend where millions of men, women and children are becoming trapped in conflict zones around the world.”
"We know that more and more internally displaced have been forced to move within their country multiple times," added Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.