GENEVA (AFP) - Armed conflicts and violence displaced more than 26 million people within their own countries in 2007, the highest number in over a decade, an international monitoring body said Thursday. And while there is growing international attention to the plight, there has been no breakthrough in reducing their numbers or improving their situation, said specialists from the Norwegian Refugee Council. The Council's internal displacement monitoring centre estimated that the number of such displaced people reached 24.5 million in 2006. But that figure continued to grow in 2007. Last year, the number of displaced people rose sharply in Iraq where there were almost 2.5 million victims by year-end, as well as Democratic Republic of Congo (1.4 million) and Somalia (one million). In Sudan and Colombia, significant populations were displaced internally - 5.8 million and up to four million respectively. Overall, these internal refugees reached a number that has not been seen since the early 1990s, said the centre. But beyond the displacement, these refugees were also "too frequently victims of the gravest human rights abuses," facing continuing attacks as well as hunger and disease. "Many national governments in 2007 were still unwilling or unable to prevent people being forced from their homes, or provide adequate protection and assistance to those who had been displaced," said the centre's Secretary-General Elisabeth Rasmusson. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres also pointed to the "unwillingness of some governments to provide their own uprooted people with adequate protection and assistance. "This survey illustrates the scope of the problem and should be a call to action for all of us in the international community," he added. Guterres also said the displaced were among the most vulnerable to rising food and energy prices that have sparked riots and instability in many developing countries. "We are witnessing a slowdown in the world economy and structural changes in the energy and food markets," he told a Press conference. The displaced population is the most vulnerable, as many of them end up among the urban poor, or if they are in rural areas they do not usually have direct access to farming, he said. "They are impacted (by rising prices) in their lives, in their suffering, but also by the fact that rising food prices extend poverty, are generating instability and confrontations, and they themselves help to trigger war and conflict," Guterres said. He warned that economic and environmental factors were growing causes of conflict and displacement, thus complicating further the attempts of aid agencies to achieve a peaceful resolution. "When one witnesses the situation in Darfur, and one witnesses an attack by a Janjaweed group on a village, it's true it's a political dimension there but it's also true that there is more and more confrontation between farmers and others about scarce water resources," he said. "Extreme poverty is also in itself a trigger for conflict."