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Internally Displaced Persons 2018

Map No.



While refugees are very visible in the public debate, the fate of internally displaced people is often much less talked about. According to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, “Internally displaced people (IDPs) have not crossed a border to find safety.” Unlike refugees, they are therefore forcibly moving within their home country. The reasons for fleeing their homes are often the same as those of refugees, such as disaster, conflict and violence. This makes internally displaced people equally if not more vulnerable since they remain within the country of where the conflicts or other causes of their displacement are.

The numbers of internal displacements are not insignificant: In 2018 UNHCR estimated a total of 41.4 million internally displaced people around the world, which is more than double the number of refugees (that are crossing a country border). Internally displaced people are the largest group of the 74.8 million persons of concern, but – just like the 2.8 million stateless people – these groups of vulnerable people are much more distant in our perception. They are much more distant than the much smaller number of refugees that manages to reach the shores of Europe making politicians feel obliged to act. But as the UNHCR states, internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable in the world because they often are located in areas where humanitarian assistance is difficult to deliver. 45% of all internally displaced persons are living in only three countries:  Colombia, Syria and North Korea.


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Technical Notes

This map shows the global proportion of internally displaced persons in 2018.

The colour shading indicates the major geographic regions of the world used in all Worldmapper cartograms (see reference map).

This map uses data by UNHCR (last accessed June 2019). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.


Further notes on the data, as well as all modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets.

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