160,000 Mexicans displaced by violence: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre


“IDP is short for ‘Internally Displaced Person’. Some 26 million people worldwide currently live in situations of internal displacement as a result of conflicts or human rights violations.They were forced to flee their homes because their lives were in danger, but unlike refugees they did not cross international borders.” This is from the website for the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) which included 160,000 Mexican IDPs in its latest report. 25,000 are classified in “protracted displacement” as a result of the unrest in Chiapas in the early 90s. The rest have been displaced more recently by surging narco violence. The report emphasized that the numbers are approximate because data is scarce and urged the government to do a better job tracking the forced displacement of citizens from one city to another.

The IDMC listed several reasons that Mexicans feel they have no choice but to abandon their homes: conflict between armed groups, conflict between these groups and the military, direct threats against civilians, forced recruitment for cartels (particularly affecting young people) and pressure to participate in illegal activities. But moving from a crime-ridden city to a more peaceful one doesn’t solve the problem. Sometimes citizens find themselves in another violent or dangerous situation, or they just have trouble finding work and keeping their kids in school. Cartels have been known to prey on the displaced, recruiting them by offering “safe passage” back to their homes in exchange. Needless to say, these empty promises usually lead to tragedy, not homecoming.

Like everything, internal displacement affects the upper and the lower classes quite differently; the report doesn’t clarify how many of these domestic refugees are moving from a luxury villa in Monterrey to a luxury penthouse in Mexico City, or fleeing a burning shack they used to live in and hoping to find shelter. In either case, the security situation must be dismal enough for the rich and poor alike to fear for their lives, their businesses and their futures. Animal Político did a special investigation on the “desplazados” last year that includes searing video footage of abandoned homes riddled with bullet holes, the voices of mothers and fathers saying they don’t know what to do because if they don’t work for the narcos, they’ll be murdered. It’s not surprising that these same areas have witnessed the rise of vigilante groups who take the law into their own hands (since it’s not in anyone else’s).


IDMC, Global Overview 2012: People displaced by internal conflict and violence (Apr 29)

Animal Político, 160 mil desplazados internos por conflictos y violencia en México (Apr 29)