The war in Syria is driving one family from their home every minute, pushing the number of people internally displaced by conflict to record highs globally, a report said Wednesday.
The study by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC) said that 33.3 million people were displaced by violence in their own nations last year.
The report showed that just five countries accounted for two-thirds of the tally: Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) are those who flee their homes but do not leave their country, as opposed to those who cross a border and are counted as refugees.
While the bulk of the 33.3 million were people who had already fled before 2013 — including some displaced over a decade ago — the total of new IDPs reached 8.2 million by the end of the year, the report said.
Of those, nearly half were in Syria. With 9,500 people a day — approximately one family every 60 seconds — being displaced inside Syria, the country remains the largest and fastest evolving displacement crisis in the world.
“The IDMC report reveals a frightening reality of life inside Syria, now the largest internal displacement crisis in the world,” said former UN aid chief Jan Egeland, who now runs the Norwegian Refugee Council, of which the IMDC is part.
“Not only do armed groups control the areas where internal displacement camps are located, these camps are badly managed, provide inadequate shelter, sanitation and limited aid delivery,” he said in a statement.
In addition, the report said, large concentrations of IDPs have been particularly targeted by artillery bombardments and airstrikes. Meanwhile, nearly 850 prisoners have died in Syrian regime jails this year, many executed summarily or tortured to death, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
“From the beginning of the year until May 13, 847 prisoners, including 15 below the age of 18 and six women, have died in security service prisons and army bases,” the Britain-based monitoring group said.
“Families and relatives were notified of the deaths,” it added. “All these people lost their lives as a result of torture, summary executions, maltreatment, poor detention conditions, including a lack of food, and because they were unable to obtain the medicine they needed.”
It said some 18,000 people among those held by the government have disappeared, and many were feared dead. “The number of victims increases because there are no measures being taken to deter the regime,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. “When the criminal knows there is no accountability, he continues his crimes.”