Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people inside their own countries, equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.

Nearly one third of them — a full 11 million people — were displaced last year alone, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing their homes every day, the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) said in a report.

“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signalling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council which is behind the IDMC.

According to the latest available UN statistics, there were some 16.7 million refugees in the world at the end of 2013, meaning the total number of displaced people is well above 50 million.

The number of internally displaced people is thus today around twice that of refugees — a dramatic shift from a few decades ago when the two categories stood on equal footing, Egeland said.

“One of the main reasons why the number of IDPs is growing so much are all the closed borders,” he told AFP, adding that the international community was “not willing or able to do as we promise: to protect the vulnerable and the innocent.”

The trend is clear: 2014 marked the third year in a row with record numbers of IDPs, with last year’s figures dwarfing those seen at the peak of the Darfur crisis in 2004, the spiralling violence in Iraq in the mid-2000s, or during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, IDMC said.

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