- The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), based in Geneva, estimates that 2.5 million people would be internally displaced in India by 2022.
- During 3 million people have been displaced annually on average in the nation during the past seven years.
- This indicates that each year in India, as many people are displaced by natural disasters as there are today living in Bhopal.
- In the previous seven years, the number of such displaced persons in India has varied between 1.3 and 5 million.
- Similar displaced people have been caused by natural catastrophes in nearby nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan (which experienced floods last year), and others in the South Asia region.
GS Paper-2: Disaster and disaster management
Discuss the reasons for and consequences of internal migration brought on by natural disasters.(150 words)
Internal displacement: What is it?
A new forced migration of people within their country’s boundaries that was reported during the year as a result of a calamity is referred to as an internal displacement.Floods, diseases, and weather-related events are examples of natural disasters that have an impact on people’s capacity to stay in their homes.
Overview of India’s internal displacement as of 2022
- Every year, India experiences some of the highest rates of internal displacement worldwide, the great majority of which are caused by natural catastrophes.
- The country’s vast population, socioeconomic weakness, and exposure to severe and frequent calamities all contribute to the scale of relocation. In 2022, there were 2.5 million fewer disaster-related displacements than there were in 2021, a nearly 50% decrease. 96% of them were the result of flooding. With certain regions of the country reporting their lowest July rainfall in 122 years, rainfall and flooding were normal or below average, which explains the declining trend.
- Assam was the state most severely impacted, with the same districts experiencing flooding in both May and June. As their homes were being destroyed, people fled in improvised boats, many of whom ended up in camps with insufficient access to water and sanitation.
- The Kopili river in Nagaon district reached a record height of more than a metre above the danger limit. Between mid-May and mid-July during the pre-monsoon season, there were reportedly 742,000 flood displacements.A significantly lower cyclone season in 2022 led to fewer displacements being reported, totaling 95,000 as opposed to the 2.5 million in 2021.
- Cyclone Sitrang, which struck the states of Odisha and West Bengal in October, caused over 66,000 of these.
- Cyclone Asani, which caused over 1,500 moves in Andhra Pradesh between May 5 and 12, and cyclone Mandous, which caused over 9,500 migrations in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Puducherry in December, were further events.There is no systematic data collecting on displacement related to conflict and violence in India.
- A little over 1,000 cases of intercommunal violence were reported in total in 2022 as a consequence of isolated incidents. Approximately 631,000 individuals were displaced as of the end of 2022.
- Many of them were uprooted by wars in the north-eastern states of Assam, Mizoram, and Tripura decades ago, and Jammu and Kashmir hasn’t made any headway towards finding lasting peace, as far as IDMC is aware.
Natural catastrophes are one of the main causes of internal relocation.
- Flooding: One of the most frequent natural calamities that result in internal migration is flooding. River overflows or coastal inundation caused by torrential rain, hurricanes, or tsunamis may force people to leave their homes and seek refuge atop higher land.
- Storms and hurricanes: Powerful storms and hurricanes can cause significant flooding, strong gusts, and heavy rainfall. People may be forced to relocate to safer areas if infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, is destroyed and an area becomes uninhabitable.
- Earthquakes: When buildings and infrastructure are destroyed by an earthquake, there can be massive relocation. People might be forced to relocate if their homes are destroyed or if there is a chance of aftershocks and further structural damage.
- Volcanic Eruptions: Communities residing close to active volcanoes may be forced to relocate due to volcanic eruptions. In addition to the eruption itself, nearby dangers like lava flows, ashfall, and toxic fumes can make an area uninhabitable and force people to flee.
- Landslides and Mudslides: Heavy rains, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can cause major displacement in landslide-prone and mudslide-prone areas. Slope destabilisation can result in massive earth and rock movements that destroy buildings and infrastructure and force people to migrate.
- Drought and Desertification: Prolonged droughts, particularly in arid and semi-arid areas, can result in population relocation. People may move in pursuit of better employment possibilities as a result of food and economic insecurity brought on by a lack of water and crop failures.
- Wildfires: Wildfires that are out of control can result in eviction, particularly when they threaten residential areas and endanger human life. To guarantee people’s security and shield them from the fire’s immediate risk, evacuation orders may be issued.
- Typhoons and Cyclones: Strong typhoons and cyclones can significantly harm coastal regions with storm surges, strong winds, and heavy rain. Such occurrences may result in the destruction of houses, infrastructure, and livelihoods, forcing displaced communities to relocate.
Impacts of internal migration brought on by natural disasters:
- A humanitarian crisis occurs when many people are abruptly uprooted from their homes and deprived of access to needs including food, water, shelter, and healthcare. This may put a strain on available resources locally and necessitate prompt intervention and aid from humanitarian organisations.
- Loss of Lives and Injuries: Both immediately during the catastrophe and indirectly owing to the resulting displacement, natural disasters can cause the loss of lives and injuries. Building collapses, landslides, floods, and other dangerous situations could result in injuries or fatalities for people. Due to the congested and unhygienic conditions in temporary shelters or refugee camps, populations who have been forced to flee their homes are especially susceptible to accidents, illnesses, and diseases.
- Internal relocation can cause social networks and community cohesion to break down. During the process of displacement, families and communities are frequently split up, which causes emotional suffering and a loss of support networks. The collapse of social institutions, such as local government structures, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions, can also be brought on by displacement.
- Economic Loss and Poverty: Communities and individuals who have been displaced frequently suffer major economic losses. The loss of assets and income sources may result from the destruction of homes, infrastructure, and livelihoods. People who have been displaced might find it difficult to get back to their pre-displacement economic standing or find employment, which would put them in a vulnerable position for the long term.
- Increased Vulnerability: Displaced populations are frequently more susceptible to exploitation, violence, and abuse, especially women, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities. They may be vulnerable to physical, sexual, and mental harm because to poor living circumstances, congestion, and a lack of security. Inequalities and discrimination that already exist in societies can be made worse through displacement.
- Health hazards: Moving might provide health hazards and difficulties. Infectious illnesses can spread more quickly in overcrowded refugee camps or temporary housing. Access to healthcare services may be challenging for displaced populations as well, increasing their risk of disease and decreasing their general well-being.
- Long-Term Displacement and Dependency: Internal displacement can sometimes last for a long time, preventing people and communities from returning to their original homes. This may result in a protracted need on humanitarian aid as well as a loss of resilience and self-sufficiency.
The best course of action is to implement long-term solutions for long-term displacement as well as comprehensive and coordinated efforts to address immediate humanitarian needs, ensure access to basic services, support livelihood recovery, and promote social integration.