Colombia has the highest number of internally displaced people (IDPs), according to the United Nations.
In its annual report, the UNHCR, the agency in charge of monitoring forced displacement, said Colombia had 7.7 million IDPs.
Syria, the second country on the list, has an internally displaced population of 6.2 million.
According to the Government, 7.7 million IDPs were registered in Colombia, an increase of over a quarter-million from the beginning of the year, with no IDP returns or other decreases reported.
This does not mean that displacement is a bigger problem in Colombia than it is in Syria; almost half of Syria’s displaced population fled abroad.
Most of Colombia’s IDPs were displaced between 1995 and 2008 when far-right paramilitary forces embarked on a territorial expansion and usurped the lands that were abandoned by the locals.
Displacement in Colombia
In 2017, more than 90,000 Colombians were forced to leave their lands by illegal armed groups, lang grabbers or combat.
The return of Colombians who formerly were displaced has been complicated by the fact that many land stolen properties were fenced to wealthy landowners, corporations and farmers who refuse to return the land.
This could be complicated further as the incoming government of President-elect Ivan Duque wants to make it more difficult for displaced victims of war to reclaim their land.
Countries with most internally displaced citizens
- Colombia (7.7 million)
- Syria (6.2 million)
- Congo (4.4 million)
The UNHCR warned that Colombia’s own problem with forced displacement is worsened by a recent influx of Venezuelan migrants who are fleeing a crisis in their home country.