GENEVA, April 16, 2007 (AFP) – The number of people displaced within their own countries by conflicts doubled last year, pushing the global total to 24.5 million, an international monitoring centre said Monday. Apart from hundreds of thousands of people in Lebanon, other large-scale returns were reported during 2006 in South Sudan (800,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (500,000), eastern Uganda (300,000) and Nepal.
Almost half of the four million people forced to flee their homes in 2006 were in Iraq or due to the conflict between Israel and the Lebanese-based Shiite group Hezbollah, the Norwegian Refugee Council said.
Often civilians were deliberately forced to flee by government forces or rebel groups, it added.
“Some 4.0 million people were internally displaced during 2006 as a result of armed conflict, more than twice as many as in previous years,” said Tomas Colin Archer, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
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“With the proliferation of armed groups in many conflicts, the displacement of civilians is often not a mere by-product of war, but a deliberate strategy used by rebels and government forces alike,” he warned.
Some 3.6 million people were able to go back home