Someone was forced to flee their home every second in 2016

Charlie Kalah stands by a traditional dwelling he is building in his village of Yakel on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, which was devastated by Cyclone Pam in March 2015
Charlie Kalah stands beside a traditional dwelling he is building in his village of Yakel (Divya Sama/IRIN)

A new report estimates that more than 31 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2016.

Refugees have special status in international law, but if you're forced from your home and stay within your country's borders, you're classified as an "internally displaced person" – an "IDP" – with no guarantee of protection or assistance. There are at least twice as many IDPs as refugees at any given time, but internal population movements are fluid, of varying duration, and hard to track. Humanitarian support to IDPs often lacks the resources of better-recognised refugee operations.

According to estimates by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, natural disasters forced 24 million people to move in 2016. Seven million of those were in China alone. Looking at the number of displaced people relative to population size, the data shows the 15 countries most affected:




The largest population movements were concentrated in six countries where 19 million displacements due to natural disasters took place. Hover for more details:



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