World Bulletin/News Desk
The UN refugee agency said that a record 33.3 million people were internally displaced in 2013 due to conflict and violence in their own countries.
Approximately 8.2 million people have been displaced due to the conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo said an annual report on "forced displacement" released Wednesday.
Of the people displaced in 2013, Syria accounted for 43 percent. Almost 2.5 million Syrians are now registered as refugees in neighboring countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.
The total number of internally displaced people in Syria is 6.5 million with Columbia second with 5.7 million internally displaced and Nigeria third with 3.3 million people displaced.
Syria, with at least 6,5 million driven from their homes in three years of fighting between government forces and insurgents and foreign fighters backing them, took over first place ahead of Colombia, suffering from decades of guerrilla wars.
The Middle Eastern country accounted for 43 per cent - 3.5 million - of all the new internally displaced people (IDPs) around the globe in 2013, a total of 8.2 million, according to the report presented at a Geneva news briefing.
Council Secretary General Jan Egeland, a former top United Nations official, said the report "reveals a frightening reality of life inside Syria," where on average now one family is being displaced every minute.
Colombia, which has seen major moves towards peace in the most recent conflict but also suffers from crime-based violence, saw an increase in IDPs for the 10th year in succession, bringing the total to 5.7 million at the end of 2013.
Nigeria had not previously provided its own figures for the displaced but now sets the total at 3.3 million, driven by inter-communal and inter-religious violence which first began to affect the large African state in the late 1990s.
The report endorsed that estimate, noting that the figure was climbing fast as a result of the insurgency by Boko Haram fighters and what it called "heavy-handed counter- insurgency operations" by the Nigerian army.
The Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre has put together the annual report for 15 years based on information from governments, relief organisations, United Nations' agencies and its own observers on the ground.
In international diplomatic and aid parlance, IDPs are distinct from refugees who are defined as people who have been forced to cross frontiers into other countries.
The total of IDPs in the DRC, also the scene of decades of violence as armed groups have fought for control of natural resources, reached at least 2,9 million, and in almost equally troubled Sudan it reached 2,4 million.