An additional 4 million Africans were forced from their homes due to conflict and repressive governance in the past year, continuing an upward trend since 2011.
- There are 29 million people in Africa who have been forcibly displaced from their homes (internally displaced, refugees, and asylum seekers). This represents a 16-percent increase from a year ago. Renewed conflict and violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Ethiopia, and the Sahel have led to the increase.
- The top 10 countries of origin account for nearly 90 percent of all forcibly displaced people on the continent and mirror Africa’s conflict hotspots in Central Africa and the Greater Horn.
- Of the 29 million, 72 percent are internally displaced, indicating that most of Africa’s forcibly displaced are primarily intent on getting out of harm’s way and not crossing borders.
- South Sudan (35 percent), CAR (28 percent), Somalia (22 percent), Eritrea (16 percent), and the DRC (7 percent) are the African countries with the greatest share of forcibly displaced proportionate to their total populations. South Sudan, Eritrea, and CAR, moreover, are three of the top five countries worldwide in terms of share of population who are refugees.
- Similar to patterns seen globally, forced displacement in Africa ends up being a long-term experience. Protracted wars and conflicts have prevented those who have sought refuge from returning home or resettling elsewhere.
- Some of the African countries that are categorized as “least developed”—Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, the DRC, Chad, and South Sudan—are hosting the lion’s share of Africa’s refugees. The strain it places on these countries’ already limited resources underscores the regional costs of conflict in Africa.
- Reversing the trends of Africa’s population displacement crisis will require addressing its primary drivers—conflict and repressive governance—and not just the symptoms.
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2019,” June 18, 2020.
- The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, “Global Report on Internal Displacement 2020,” April 2020.
- Wendy Williams, “COVID-19 and Africa’s Displacement Crisis,” Spotlight, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, March 25, 2020.
- Wendy Williams, “Shifting Borders: Africa’s Displacement Crisis and Its Security Implications,” Africa Center Research Paper No. 8, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, October 2019.
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