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Conflicts push forcibly displaced over 100 million for first time
by UNHCR, NRC, IDMC, World Vision
1:33pm 9th May, 2022
The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution has now crossed the staggering milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts.
“One hundred million is a stark figure – sobering and alarming in equal measure. It’s a record that should never have been set,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
“This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes.”
According to new data from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide rose towards 90 million by the end of 2021, propelled by new waves of violence or protracted conflict in countries including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In addition, the war in Ukraine has displaced 8 million within the country this year, and more than 6 million refugee movements from Ukraine have been registered.
At over 1 per cent of the global population, the overall figure is equivalent to the 14th most populous country in the world. It includes refugees and asylum seekers as well as the 53.2 million people displaced inside their borders by conflict, according to a recent report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
“The international response to people fleeing war in Ukraine has been overwhelmingly positive,” Grandi added. “Compassion is alive and we need a similar mobilization for all crises around the world. But ultimately, humanitarian aid is a palliative, not a cure. To reverse this trend, the only answer is peace and stability so that innocent people are not forced to gamble between acute danger at home or precarious flight and exile.”
Oct. 2022
UN refugee chief warns of ‘severe cuts’ without urgent funding. (UNHCR)
The UN refugee agency will have to make deep cuts with dire consequences for displaced people around the globe unless it quickly receives $700m in new funding, the head of the agency said this week.
The war in Ukraine has created millions of refugees, and there are now more than 100 million people who have been forcibly displaced in the world, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said. He said the crisis has undermined the agency’s existing budget.
“I regret to inform you that for the first time during my tenure, I’m worried about UNHCR’s financial situation,” Grandi said.
“If we do not receive at least an additional $700m, especially for our most underfunded operations between now and the end of this year, we will be forced to make severe cuts with negative and sometimes dramatic consequences for refugees and host communities,” he said. “In the strongest of terms to all donors, please do more.”
He said the Ukraine conflict had spurred “the largest and fastest displacement crisis” in Europe since World War II and added more than $1bn to the UNHCR’s budget this year.
More than 7.6 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia’s invasion began on February 24. Grandi said he was worried about the impact of cold weather during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter on 6.2 million people internally displaced in Ukraine.
“I share the government’s concerns about the looming winter,” he said, adding that the elderly and disabled were especially vulnerable.
Grandi said that most of the funding his UN agency receives from countries is heavily earmarked for particular projects, making it difficult to respond to where it sees the greatest needs.
This has left its response dramatically underfunded for dire refugee crises in places such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Sahel region.
Funding to help the millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries is “at its lowest level ever”, he warned.
“If we do not maintain focus on all crises, if we do not adequately resource all responses, we are dooming refugees and their hosts to further hardship, loss of hope and the risk of onward movement,” Grandi said.
* Out of the Spotlight, a UNHCR special feature looks at the mounting hardships millions of refugees and internally displaced people are facing in forgotten corners of the globe:
May 2022
Global Report on Internal Displacement 2022. (IDMC)
The number of people living in internal displacement around the world reached a record 59.1 million at the end of 2021, up from 55 million a year earlier.
The unprecedented figure is the result of new waves of violence and protracted conflict in countries ranging from Ethiopia and Afghanistan to Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)'s annual global report.
“The situation today is phenomenally worse than even our record figure suggests, as it doesn’t include nearly eight million people forced to flee the war in Ukraine. We need a titanic shift in thinking from world leaders on how to prevent and resolve conflicts to end this soaring human suffering,” said the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.
Around 38 million internal displacements, or movements, were reported during 2021, the second highest annual figure in a decade after 2020's record-breaking year for disaster displacement.
Conflict and violence triggered 14.4 million movements, an increase of almost 50 per cent on the year before Sub-Saharan Africa was the most affected region, with more than five million displacements in Ethiopia alone, the highest figure ever for a single country. The DRC, Afghanistan and Myanmar also registered unprecedented numbers in 2021.
The Middle East and North Africa recorded its lowest in ten years as conflict in Syria, Libya and Iraq de-escalated, but the region's overall number of internally displaced people (IDPs) remained concerningly high by the end of the year.
"The trend toward long-term displacement will never be reversed unless safe and sustainable conditions are established for IDPs to return home, integrate locally or resettle elsewhere," said IDMC's Director, Alexandra Bilak.
"Peacebuilding and development initiatives are needed to resolve the underlying challenges that hold displaced people's lives in limbo."
Disasters continued to trigger most internal displacements globally, with 23.7 million recorded in 2021. Weather-related hazards accounted for 94 per cent of the total, many of which were pre-emptive evacuations in the face of cyclones and floods that struck densely populated areas of Asia and the Pacific region. China, the Philippines and India recorded their highest figures in five years at six million, 5.7 million and 4.9 million, respectively.
Conflict and violence collided with disasters in many countries, forcing people to flee several times. Be it in Mozambique, Myanmar, Somalia or South Sudan, overlapping crises had severe knock-on effects on food security and heightened the vulnerability of millions. Covid-19 also aggravated inequalities and made IDPs' lives even more precarious.
Around 25.2 million of the world's IDPs are under the age of 18 and the effects of their displacement go well beyond their immediate safety, wellbeing and education. A healthy and happy child is more likely to contribute to an equitable society and a functioning economy.
More data is needed to better understand these broader and longer-term impacts, but it is clear that protecting and supporting displaced children and young people not only safeguards their rights, but also contributes to a more stable future for all.
"Children and young people are agents of change. Recognising them as such is vital to protect development gains and reduce the risk of future crises," said Alexandra Bilak. "Preparing the world of tomorrow must start with their active participation and leadership."

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