Sources: Dignified lives for displaced people

Millions of people across the world have been forced to leave their homes [1,3]. These people are called ‘displaced people’ and fall into two categories: internally displaced (remaining in your own country) and refugees (crossing international borders) [1]. Reasons for displacement include natural disasters, political tension and environmental factors [1-3]. People often have to live in densely populated make-shift camps with poor healthcare and sanitation facilities [8]. They frequently face political, social and economic discrimination while also dealing with physical and mental health issues  [4-7,13]. Despite negative political narratives, migration is not overwhelming in high-income countries. It often takes place between low and middle-income countries [4]

Facts and Figures

  • Most displaced people camps are run by the UNHCR. Their funding system is dependent on voluntary donations by governments. The financial impact of COVID-19 means it’s highly likely that there will be less funding for these types of projects [8]. 

  • Despite negative political narratives, migration is not overwhelming high-income countries. It  often takes place between low and middle-income countries [4].

  • Colombia is the country with the highest number of internally displaced people in the world [7].

  • The countries where the effects of internal displacement are most wide-spread and severe are Central African Republic, Syria and South Sudan [11].

  • Measles, diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections, malaria and malnutrition are major causes of morbidity and mortality among refugees. These diseases consistently account for between 60 percent and 80 percent of all reported causes of death [13].

  •  In 2019, a total of 33.4 million new displacements were recorded in 145 countries and territories [10]. 
  • At the end of 2019, 50.8 million people were recorded as displaced due to conflict, violence and disasters [10].

  • There are currently around 37 million children living in displaced people camps [12].

The UNHCR recognises three phases that require assistance: emergency, care and maintenance and durable solutions [3]. Because the highest mortality rate is during the emergency phase of an unexpected disaster, one of the most effective solutions is to have appropriate preparedness and responses in place [13]. When it comes to care and maintenance, building relationships with local communities and governments and investing in discrimination mitigation is an important strategy  [6,9]. There is a great need for more programmes to meet the basic health needs and monitoring mechanisms to mitigate further mental and physical health crises in camps [4,13-15].


  1. WHO - Displaced People (link
  2. UNHCR - Environmental refugees: myth or reality? (working paper
  3. UNHCR - Environmental concerns during refugee operations (link)
  4. The unmet needs of refugees and internally displaced people (research paper
  5. Gendered and Racialised Border Security: Displaced People and the Politics of Fear (research paper)
  6. Perceived discrimination of displaced people in development-induced displacement and resettlement: The role of integration (research paper
  7. Post-traumatic stress disorder in internally displaced people of Colombia: An ecological study (research paper
  8. COVID-19 pandemic and economic cost; impact on forcibly displaced people (research paper
  9. UNHCR - Refugee Operations and Environmental Management (report
  10. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center - Country Profiles (link)
  11. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center - Internal Displacement Index 2020 (report
  12. COVID-19 pandemic and economic cost; impact on forcibly displaced people (research paper)
  13. UNHCR - Refugee Health (link
  14. Bibliometric analysis of medicine-related publications on refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people: 2000 – 2015 (research paper)