Over 117 mln people forcibly displaced, UNHCR report says

2024-06-14 Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

Forced displacement surged to historic new levels across the globe last year, demanding urgent solutions, according to a recent report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"An estimated 117.3 million people remained forcibly displaced at the end of 2023, having been forced to flee persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order," said the 2024 flagship Global Trends Report from UNHCR published on Thursday.

"This constitutes a rise of 8 percent or 8.8 million people compared to the end of 2022 and continues a series of year-on-year increase over the last 12 years."

The global displaced population is estimated to continue rising and exceed 120 million by the end of April 2024, reflecting both new and mutating conflicts and a failure to resolve long-standing crises. The figure would make the global displaced population equivalent to the 12th largest country in the world, around the size of Japan's, the report said.

A key factor driving the figures higher has been the devastating conflict in Sudan. Since April of last year, more than 7.1 million new displacements were recorded in the country, with another 1.9 million outside. At the end of 2023, a total of 10.8 million Sudanese were uprooted. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar, millions were internally displaced last year by vicious fighting.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, estimated that by the end of last year, up to 1.7 million people, which account for 75 percent of the population, had been displaced in the Gaza Strip by the catastrophic violence, some Palestine refugees having fled multiple times. Syria remains the world's largest displacement crisis, with 13.8 million forcibly displaced in and outside the country.

"Behind these stark and rising numbers lie countless human tragedies. That suffering must galvanize the international community to act urgently to tackle the root causes of forced displacement," said Filippo Grandi, the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees. "It is high time for warring parties to respect the basic laws of war and international law. The fact is that without better cooperation and concerted efforts to address conflict, human rights violations and the climate crisis, displacement figures will keep rising, bringing fresh misery and costly humanitarian responses."

The largest increase in displacement figures came from people fleeing conflict who remain in their own country, rising to 68.3 million people, up almost 50 percent over five years, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

The number of refugees, and others in need of international protection, climbed to 43.4 million when including those under UNHCR and UNRWA's mandates. The vast majority of refugees are hosted in countries neighboring their own, with 75 percent residing in low- and middle-income countries that together produce less than 20 percent of the world's income.

The report showed that worldwide, more than 5 million internally displaced people and 1 million refugees returned home in 2023. These figures showed some progress toward longer-term solutions. Positively, resettlement arrivals increased to almost 160,000 in 2023.

"Refugees — and the communities hosting them — need solidarity and a helping hand. They can and do contribute to societies when they are included," Grandi added. "Equally, last year millions of people returned home, representing an important glimmer of hope. Solutions are out there — we've seen countries like Kenya lead the way in refugee inclusion — but it takes real commitment."

The report also offered new analysis on the climate crisis and how it increasingly and disproportionately affects forcibly displaced people.

Given the immense challenges facing 120 million forcibly displaced people outlined in the report, UNHCR said the agency will remain steadfast in its commitment to delivering new approaches and solutions to help people forced to flee their homes, wherever they are.

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