Population displacement

Migration within and via West and Central Africa, including towards Europe - key drivers and routes

Maps produced in response to extensive population displacements that may be internal, cross-border (refugees) or both. Such displacements may be driven by a natural or technological disaster, or by a complex emergency. Data to be mapped is most often generated through coordinated displacement tracking and field assessment activities, although may sometimes be derived from predictive and remote sensed methods.

Strategic or operational?


Basemap, baseline or situational?


When might it be produced?

Displacement can occur at various times during an emergency and may recur and shift through returns and secondary displacements, particularly during protracted crises.

Intended audience

All responders, but particularly those working on assessment processes and response planning and coordination. Emergency shelter, protection and camp coordination and camp management cluster actors may be both key data providers and users of such mapping.

Influence on humanitarian decisions

Displacement is a major driver of humanitarian needs and the profile of displaced people, including their movements and locations, is a key information need for response planning.


  • In complex emergencies, protection must be considered carefully before issuing any maps identifying groups who may be vulnerable.

  • The harmonisation of spatial structures (e.g. p-coded administration units) with situational datasets is crucial for the effective mapping of displaced people. This should be considered when designing profiling projects of IDPs.
  • Thought should be given to the most effective way to depict on maps the movement of groups, who may go through several different phases of displacement. Infographic methods may be most suitable.


  • Qualified and reliable data on groups of displaced people. This will usually be collected through a coordinated process such as an IDP profiling project and/or a displacement tracking matrix.
  • Best-available administration boundary and settlement datasets, matching the spatial tagging of the displacement data.
  • Data on the pre-emergency population is likely to be valuable in some cases.


  • International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
  • Displacement Tracking Matrix
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - Asylum and Migration