There are many forces contributing to the internal displacement of millions ranging from the environment to unjust regimes. Below is a list of some of the major events that continue to cause unprecedented amounts of struggle.

South and Central America

This year marked a transition to a new chapter in the United States’ three decade-long effort to limit illegal immigration across the Southwest border. Previously, border crossers were primarily Mexican men pursuing employment, with most attempting entry in Arizona and California. The flow has increasingly shifted to Southeast Texas and from predominantly Mexican to majority Central American since 2012, with a rising share of children and families included in the stream. That trend was sharply underscored in the late spring and summer of 2014, with the surge in arrivals of unaccompanied children and parents with young children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.(

Emigration of children and families stems from a complex mix of factors, including pervasive violence, poor economic opportunities, and the presence in the United States of family members ineligible to sponsor them for lawful immigration as a result of their own lack of full legal status. While Mexican border crossers in earlier periods were overwhelmingly deportable under U.S. immigration law, recent Central American arrivals present a classic “mixed flow:” many are deportable, but a large number (mostly women and children) have valid asylum or other humanitarian claims.(

On the other hand, strong evidence also points to increasingly grave conditions in Central America as principal drivers of the new influx. A number of investigations by journalists and studies by nongovernmental organizations have found that children are fleeing their home countries to escape violence, abuse, persecution, trafficking, and economic deprivation. To be sure, murder, poverty, and youth unemployment rates paint a bleak picture of conditions that children may face in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in particular. Rising gang violence in some of these countries has become an undeniable factor in many children’s decision to migrate.(

A recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) study based on interviews with more than 400 unaccompanied minors found that 48 percent had experienced violence or threats by organized-crime groups, including gangs, or drug cartels, or by state actors in their home countries, and 22 percent reported experiencing abuse at home and violence at the hands of their caretakers. Thirty-nine percent of Mexican children reported being recruited into or exploited by human smuggling organizations. (

Additionally, family separation has long been a strong motivation for unaccompanied minors to migrate. Immigration to the United States from Central America and Mexico in high numbers over the last decade has led adults, now settled in the United States, to send for the children they left behind. UNHCR researchers found that 81 percent of the children they interviewed cited joining a family member or pursuing better opportunities as a reason for migrating to the United States. While the family separation dynamic is not a new one, home-county conditions have added urgency to it. (


Heavy fighting between Christian and Muslim militias in the Central African Republic (CAR) prompted new refugee outflows during 2014, with nearly 420,000 seeking refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The number of internally displaced persons, which hit a peak of 922,000 in January, had declined to 437,400 by mid-December.(

Across Africa, new displacement rose in 2014. Insecurity and famine in Somalia, long a refugee-origin country, pushed the number of IDPs past 1.1 million. In Nigeria, Boko Haram’s reign of terror continued to displace hundreds of thousands of people, bringing the number of IDPs to at least 3.3 million, the third-highest in the world behind Syria and Colombia. In total, more than 11.4 million people have been displaced in 12 East African countries, including the DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.(

The Middle East

While the Syria crisis has attracted the most public attention, other countries are more quietly experiencing significant refugee crises of their own. The still-fragile security situation in Afghanistan kept it at the top of the list of refugee-origin countries for the 33rd consecutive year in 2013, with 2.6 million Afghan refugees in 86 countries. The largest numbers can be found in Pakistan and Iran, while Germany serves as the largest host outside the region. As 2014 draws to a close, the number of refugees from Syria has surpassed that of Afghanistan, where there is a slower rate of displacement.(

In Iraq, the rise of the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and ensuing sectarian violence forced many Iraqis to flee over the course of the year. In August, ISIS fighters seized control of the town of Sinjar, leaving thousands of Yazidis—ethnic Kurds who practice a distinctive religion—trapped for days on a mountainside without food or water. As many as 200,000 people, most from the Yazidi community, fled within the country, while thousands more left for Turkey, according to UNHCR. As of late November, more than 3 million Iraqis were internally displaced, including 1.9 million newly displaced in 2014, half of whom are seeking refuge in the country’s Kurdish region. (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s