Conflict and violence uprooted a record 33.3 million people within their countries last year, according to a new United Nations-backed report released today, which adds that 63 per cent of them are in five countries - Syria, Colombia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan.
"We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upward trend," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who was present at the launch in Geneva of the global overview produced by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
"We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering. Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative."
Last year's figure is a "staggering" increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signalling a record high for the second year running, according to a news release on the report. Nigeria features for the first time, with the report documenting that an "astounding" 3.3 million people there have been displaced by conflict.
Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that the record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a "disturbing upward trend" of internal displacement since the Centre first began monitoring and analysing displacement back in the late 1990s.
"The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue," he said.
Syria is the largest internal and fastest evolving displacement crisis in the world, according to the report, which noted that 9,500 people are being displaced in the war-torn country per day - approximately one family every 60 seconds.
The three countries experiencing the worst levels of new displacement - Syria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and DRC - together accounted for 67 per cent of the 8.2 million people newly displaced in 2013.
"These trends do not bode well for the future - we have to sit up, listen up and act up by working more closely together to end this misery for millions; humanitarians alone cannot make this happen," noted Mr. Egeland. "Global internal displacement is everyone's problem, from politicians to private companies, development actors and lawyers - we all have a role to play."