Some 11 million people have been displaced in the last year alone, according to a new report by a Geneva-based watchdog. The total number now equals the populations of New York, London and Beijing combined.
The number of people who were forced into refugee within their own countries has reached a record high, with 38 million people internally displaced, according to the report presented by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) on Wednesday.
"These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians," said Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council which is behind the watchdog organization.
Around 11 million, or almost one third of the world-wide number was displaced during 2014 alone, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing every day.
Unlike refugees, the internally displaced people (IDPs) do not cross international borders after fleeing from their homes, instead moving to other parts of the country. According to the Wednesday report, their numbers are almost double those for refugees.
"This report should be a tremendous wake-up call," Egeland said.
Iraq was the hardest hit by the last year's surge, with 2.2 million people forced to flee from the areas seized by the "Islamic State."
At the same time, there was a massive rise in displacement in Ukraine, with 646,500 people leaving their communities in 2014.
This is the first time that such trends have been noted in Europe since the end of wars in the former Yugoslavia.
"One of the main reasons why the number of IDPs is growing so much are all the closed borders," Egeland told AFP, adding that the international community was "not willing or able to do as we promise: to protect the vulnerable and the innocent."
Peace 'the obvious solution'
Syria leads the IDPs statistics, with 7.6 million people, or some 40 percent of total population being displaced in the war-torn country. It is followed by Colombia with over six million, Iraq with approximately 3.4 million, Sudan with 3.1 million, and DR Congo with 2.8 million internally displaced, according to the report.
UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk warned that internal displacement ends up creating masses of desperate people who are willing to cross borders and become refugees, such as those who take dangerous trips across the Mediterranean to seek asylum in Europe.
"The obvious solution lies in an all-out effort to bring about peace in war-ravaged countries," Türk added.
dj/bw (dpa, AFP, epd)