Mexico Drug War Displaces 230,000 and Half Find Refuge in the U.S., Says Report

About 230,000 people have been displaced in Mexico because of drug violence, and about half of them may have taken refuge in the United States, a new report says.

There were 27.5 million internally displaced people in the world in 2010, said the report by he Swiss-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a leading international body monitoring conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide. About 5.4 million of these were in the Americas, an increase of 400,000 -- mostly due to an increase in the number displaced in Colombia and Mexico. There were more people displaced in the Americas in 2010 than in the Middle-East.

Colombia, which is dealing with a decades-long civil war pitting leftist guerillas with right-wing paramilitary groups, leads the world with a record 3.6 million to 5.2 million displaced people. Kate Halff, Head of the NRC Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, says widespread discrimination against displaced populations from ethnic minority groups was seen, including between Afro-Colombians in Colombia.

“In 2010, Colombia and Sudan had considerably the largest internally displaced populations, followed by Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Pakistan,” she said.

The Mexican government does not compile figures on people who have had to leave their homes because of turf battles between drug gangs. The IDMC numbers  are based on studies by local researchers.

But recently released Mexico census figures support the idea of an exodus. The census show almost two-thirds of homes in one hard-hit northern Mexico township have been abandoned.

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