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Weekly Chart: Internally Displaced People in the Americas 

October 13, 2016

There are nearly 9 million internally displaced people in Latin America. 6.3 million are in Colombia.
While refugees may get more media coverage, there are twice as many internally displaced people worldwide.

Amid violence, natural disasters, and development projects, Latin America and the Caribbean’s internally displaced population rose to just under 9 million in 2015, echoing a troubling trend in the rest of the world. According to a 2016 report from the Swiss-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), there are now twice as many internally displaced people as refugees worldwide, though they often receive less media attention than those who take refuge beyond their own borders.

The recent rejection by voters of Colombia’s peace deal with guerrillas has left the country’s nearly 7 million displaced people in extended limbo. The peace deal was to include provisions regarding land titling and reform that would redistribute underutilized and illegally held lands to those who’ve been displaced by years of fighting and landmines. As of now the peace deal is still under negotiation, and Colombia’s displaced population continues to grow. More than 200,000 Colombians were added to the country’s IDP population in 2015, ranking it in the world’s ten fastest-growing IDP populations due to conflict.

To the north, organized crime is largely responsible for the growing displaced populations in Mexico and Central America. This year, El Salvador opened the first camp for displaced people since the country’s 12-year civil war, a conflict that ended in 1992, but whose aftermath left one out of every five Salvadorans displaced and paved the way for the rise in violent crime in the country today. Honduras is the only country in the region to have set up a commission to protect displaced people, while in Mexico, the population goes largely unrecognized, even though the country registered 6,000 cases of internal displacement in 2015 alone.

Natural disasters account for another major cause of displacement in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Hurricane Matthew the latest to take its toll. According to a UN Security Council briefing, around one in five Haitians have been affected by the storm, including more than 60,000 evacuations. This is in addition to the nearly 62,000 Haitians still displaced by the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

As the hemisphere as a whole continues to grapple with a growing IDP population, AS/COA online takes a look at the facts and figures.