More than 110 million people forcibly displaced in the world, UN says

UN data revealed that almost 87 per cent of all refugees in 2022 originated from only 10 nations

Internally displaced people wait for morning water distribution inside Central African Republic's largest displacement camp in Bria. AFP
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More than 110 million people have been driven from their homes around the world, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday, with the ongoing crisis in Sudan expected to push global displacement to its highest level ever.

The UNHCR report said tens of millions have been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, human rights abuses and climate change, with 70 per cent fleeing to neighbouring countries.

According to the UN, the figure represents a 21 per cent surge from 2021, marking it the largest increase ever since the records began back in 1975.

"We have 110 million people that have fled because of conflict, persecution, discrimination and violence, often mixed with other motives -- in particular the impact of climate change," UN refugee commissioner chief Filippo Grandi told a press conference in Geneva.

"It's quite an indictment on the state of our world," he said.

“The drivers of this increase have been the ones you can expect, but in particular, last year was the situation in Ukraine that displaced millions both inside and outside the country, and this year has been the situation in Sudan,” Mr Grandi said.

He said the most recent data reveals that more than 450,000 people, primarily Sudanese citizens but also refugees from other nations residing in Sudan, have fled the country due to a lack of support.

If current patterns persist, the UN refugee chief expects that number to surpass half a million within a matter of days.

The number of acutely food insecure people in Sudan is projected to increase by more than two million in the next six months.

“These figures show us that some people are far too quick to rush to conflict, and way too slow to find solutions,” he said.

UN data revealed that almost 87 per cent of all refugees in 2022 originated from only 10 nations, slightly exceeding the proportions observed in previous years.

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.

The war in Ukraine 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.

Syrians constituted almost one fifth of the global refugee population, with 6.5 million Syrians seeking refuge across 131 countries.

The majority, 77 per cent, found shelter in neighbouring countries including Turkey (3.5 million), Lebanon (814,700) and Jordan (660,900).

Mr Grandi pointed out that Lebanon has, per capita, hosted the largest number of refugees – “not only Syrian, but Iraqis and then Palestinians in large numbers, and they are also facing huge problems of their own”.

“More international support and more equitable responsibility sharing is required, especially with those countries that are hosting most of the world’s displaced,” he noted.

Regarding the safe return of refugees to Syria, Mr Grandi said he had spoken to Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad and underscored the need to “generate trust”.

“I told President Assad … if there is trust, and people decide to go back, but that if that trust is not there, it will be difficult to see numbers grow very much whatever the initiative,” he said.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 12:42 PM