Forced displacement at record level, reach 110 million globally

June 14, 2023
2 mins read
Image: Anadolu Agency

An estimated 19 million people were forced to escape their homes in 2022, raising the total number of people displaced forcibly throughout the globe to a new high of around 110 million. The spike last year was driven by war in Ukraine, revised estimates for Afghan refugees and due to the ongoing fighting in Sudan.

According to UNHCR’s annual report, Global Trends in Forced Displacement 2022, the number of people displaced by the end of 2022 due to war, persecution, violence and human rights abuses stood at a record 108.4 million. This, increase of 19.1 million since the previous year, marks the biggest-ever increase.

Of the global total, 35.3 million were refugees, people who crossed an international border to find safety, while a greater share – 58 per cent, representing 62.5 million people – were displaced in their home countries due to conflict and violence.

The report noted that the Ukraine war was the top driver of displacement in 2022. The number of refugees from Ukraine soared from 27,300 at the end of 2021 to 5.7 million at the end of 2022 – representing the fastest outflow of refugees anywhere since World War II. Estimates for the number of refugees from Afghanistan were sharply higher by the end of 2022 due to revised estimates of Afghans hosted in Iran, many having arrived in previous years. Similarly, the report reflected upward revisions by Colombia and Peru of the numbers of Venezuelans, mostly categorized as “other people in need of international protection,” hosted in those countries.

“These figures show us that some people are far too quick to rush to conflict, and way too slow to find solutions. The consequence is devastation, displacement, and anguish for each of the millions of people forcibly uprooted from their homes,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.

The figures also confirmed that, whether measured by economic means or population ratios, it remains the world’s low- and middle-income countries – not wealthy states – that host most displaced people. The 46 least developed countries account for less than 1.3 per cent of global gross domestic product, yet they hosted more than 20 per cent of all refugees. Funding for the numerous displacement situations and to support hosts lagged behind needs last year, remaining sluggish in 2023 as requirements increase.

While the total figure of displaced continued to grow, the Global Trends report also showed that those forced to flee are not condemned to exile, rather they can and do go home, voluntarily and safely. In 2022, over 339,000 refugees returned to 38 countries, and though was lower than the previous year there were significant voluntary returns to South Sudan, Syria, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire. Meantime, 5.7 million internally displaced people returned in 2022, notably within Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

At the end of 2022, an estimated 4.4 million people worldwide were stateless or of undetermined nationality, 2 per cent more than at the end of 2021.

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