Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) 2021

IDMC, 2021


The 2021 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID) presents global figures for internal displacement in 2020.

The report includes the following key statistics on internal displacement due to conflict and violence:

  • An estimated 48 million people in 59 countries and territories were internally displaced as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2020, the highest figure ever recorded. Five countries—Syria (6.6 million), DRC (5.3 million), Colombia (4.9 million), Yemen (3.6 million), and Afghanistan (3.5 million)—account for about half of the global total.
  • 8 million new displacements due to conflict and violence were recorded in 2020. Persistent conflict continued to force people to flee in DRC, Syria and Afghanistan, while escalating violence and the expansion of extremist groups in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and CAR fueled fast growing displacement crises. Most new displacements in 2020 took place in DRC (2.2 million), Syria (1.8 million) and Ethiopia (1.7 million). The number of new displacements fell in several countries in 2020 including in Iraq, Libya and Sudan due to ceasefire agreements and peace building initiatives.
  • The convergence of conflict and disasters led to many people being displaced more than once, increasing and prolonging their vulnerability. For example, many of those who fled flooding in Yemen had already been forcibly displaced at least once by conflict. And in Somalia, drought has precipitated movements of people from rural to urban areas where they are at greater risk of eviction and attacks by armed groups.
  • The economic cost of internal displacement (due to protracted conflicts) was estimated at nearly US$20.5 billion in 2020. This figure includes the cost of providing IDPs with housing, education, health and security, and accounts for their loss of income for one year of displacement.
  • There were an estimated 23.3 million IDPs under the age of 18 (due to both conflict and disasters) at the end of 2020. The figure includes 7.2 million children under age five and 12.8 million of primary and early secondary school age.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) recorded the largest number of new displacements due to conflict (6.8 million). Conflict and displacement continued in the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, where 515,000 new displacements were recorded in 2020. New conflict displacements also reached unprecedented levels in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, where 584,000 new displacements were recorded in 2020. An estimated 21.8 million people in SSA were internally displaced due to conflict and violence at the end of 2020, the highest figure ever recorded for the region.
  • 1 million new displacements were recorded in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during 2020. Protracted conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya led to an increase in displacement in the MENA region during 2020. Ceasefire agreements led to a decrease in violence, particularly in Iraq, Libya and Syria in the second half of the year. In aggregate, around 11.8 million people were internally displaced as a result of conflict and violence across the MENA region at the end of 2020.

This year’s report includes a special feature on the impacts of COVID-19 on internal displacement. The main impacts of COVID-19 on IDPs include:

  • Increased financial difficulties due to lockdowns and the economic downturn precipitated by the pandemic.
  • Increased barriers to education for displaced children due to school closures. Displaced children are also less likely to have access to distance learning modalities than the general population.
  • Heightened food insecurity due to the economic recession and changes in the availability and price of commodities.
  • Obstacles for IDPs to get vaccinated against COVID-19, due to their limited access to health facilities and legal documents. Additionally, underlying health conditions, overcrowding and poor hygiene and sanitation in areas where IDPs live tend to increase their vulnerability to infection and serious illness.
  • Travel constraints, the disruption of supply chains and measures to limit the spread of the virus have created impediments for humanitarian organizations that support IDPs. Lockdowns, curfews and movement restrictions have also impeded access to IDPs in addition to existing security and logistical obstacles.
  • Public health measures have hindered primary data collection on IDPs, making it more difficult to track their movements and assess their needs.
  • While the pandemic has increased the need for humanitarian funding, the economic downturn has put pressure on donor governments to prioritize domestic needs.

Part 2 of the report focuses on internal displacement in a changing climate. While largely focused on disaster-induced displacement, the authors note that “many of today’s crises are shaped by a complex mix of climate and environmental change, disaster risk, conflict, fragility and displacement.”