By: Pablo Escribano

According to the 2020 report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), in 2019 there were 33.4 million new internal displacements in the world, of which 24,855,000 were due to disasters and 8,553,800 due to conflict and violence. This represents the highest figure registered annually since 2012.

In the Americas, disasters and violence caused 2,147,000 new displacements during 2019. Disasters account for 72% of the total (1,545,000) while violence caused 28% (602,000). The proportion is similar to global figures (74.5% and 25.5% respectively).


New displacements due to conflict, violence and disasters in the Americas (2009-2019).


The countries most affected by internal displacement at the continental level were the United States, El Salvador, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, although for different reasons:

  • The United States registered 916,000 new displacements, which represents 42.5% of the global total, and 59% of the total continental displacement due to disasters. Hurricane Dorian led to the evacuation of 450,000 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. Widespread fires caused 423,000 new displacements, particularly in California in October.
  • The 455,900 new displacements registered in El Salvador in 2019 are attributed exclusively to violence. This number was extrapolated from calculations by civil society organizations in the country. The adoption of a new law earlier this year could improve this research methodology.
  • In 2019, Brazil was one of the countries affected by the highest number of disasters in the world, registering more than 295,000 events that caused 250,000 new displacements, in particular floods and landslides. There is also initial data on displacement due to gradual phenomena in Brazil, such as drought (6,100 new displacements) and coastal erosion (240), which reveal significant processes related to climate change that could exist in other countries but are not represented due to a lack of data.
  • In Colombia, displacement due to conflict and violence (139,000) in 2019 were more than those related to disasters (35,000). The latter was due to flooding in the departments of Putumayo, Antioquia, Magdalena, Nariño and Chocó. Colombia is a particular case, since there were 5,576,000 displaced people at the end of 2019, it is difficult to find lasting solutions to displacement.
  • The fifth country with the highest number of new displacements in 2019 was Bolivia, with 77,031 cases resulting from flood disasters in Chuquisaca, Cochabamba and La Paz.

Hurricane Dorian caused more than 464,000 new displacements between September and October 2019, distributed among the Caribbean countries, the United States, and Canada. The Bahamas suffered the greatest impact, with $3.4 trillion in estimated damages and a fifth of the country's population affected. The situation of the Haitian community was particularly worrying due to its socioeconomic context and the concentration of this population in informal settlements that were particularly affected.

Priorities for the future include advancing risk prevention and reducing prolonged displacement. To improve skills in both areas, a global partnership is needed to collect, evaluate and compare practices and experiences in a systematic way, and to facilitate peer learning and support.