2019 was another year in which tens of millions of people were forced from their homes and displaced within their own countries.
They fled conflict and violence in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and in the eight-year tragedy that continues to unfold in Syria. They fled flooding in the Philippines, India and Bangladesh, drought in Afghanistan, the Sahel and Horn of Africa, wildfires in the Americas and the devastation of Cyclone ldai in Mozambique.
I saw this vulnerability up close several times this year - and with it, great courage and resilience. In November 2019, I visited northeast Nigeria and talked to some of the two million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Borno State who have been driven from their homes by Boko Haram. One woman I spoke with told me of the trauma she and her family had experienced while fleeing for their lives.
"When we escaped, we ran, without taking our belongings," a woman told me. "Some of us ran barefoot. Some women lost their children - they have seen a lot."
Internal displacement is one of the biggest and most over looked challenges of our time. Yet it's the centrepiece of almost every other challenge the world faces today from conflict and income inequality, to climate change, disaster risk and urban growth.
That's why, in the coming years the world must focus more attention on finding solutions for its millions of internally displaced people. Solutions in the form of better data, so that we can grasp the full extent of this challenge. We need stronger laws, more coherent policies, investment in preventing conflicts and reducing the risk of disasters. Above all, we need protection and assistance for the millions of vulnerable women, men and children, who deserve a brighter future.
The good news is that these solutions do exist. In October 2019, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) brought together more than 200 representatives from government, UN agencies, civil society and academia to showcase and discuss promising approaches at the national and local level to reduce and end internal displacement.
Through the development and use of innovative data collection tools and approaches, IDMC also continues to fill data gaps and paint a more comprehensive picture of internal displacement. In 2019, this included new methodologies for tracking drought displacement and cross-border movements, future flood displacement risk and movement patterns after extreme weather events.
IDMC also carried out primary research in 15 countries and published 27 new pieces of work to help point governments towards solutions. We broke new ground in researching the impacts of displacement on children, and the impacts of internal displacement on economic growth, both globally and in Africa.
Working with our partners, we will continue to compile, document and make these solutions available. We'll share them through our participation in the new UN High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. And we will demonstrate how they can be implemented, and how they can become an integral part of the global sustainable development agenda that we should all be working towards for 2030.
IDMC will continue to provide unique evidence of how internal displacement has a social, economic, environmental, and ultimately, a political cost. We will show, with evidence, what is needed to effect real political change on internal displacement, from the local to the global and involving governments, UN agencies, civil society, and internally displaced people themselves.
The goal is to create a world in which fewer people become displaced and those who do find rapid and lasting solutions. With the support of our donors and partners, it is possible to achieve this goal and make real and enduring change in the decade ahead.
Thank you for supporting IDMC's work over the years. None of our achievements in 2019 would have been possible without your generous and loyal support.
Alexandra Bilak Director of IDMC