Record 120 million people forcibly displaced globally

Forcibly displaced

The United Nations has reported a record-breaking 120 million people are currently living forcibly displaced by war, violence and persecution.

Revealed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 13 June, this alarming figure underscores a growing global crisis.

The UNHCR attributed the surge in displacement to ongoing conflicts in regions such as Gaza, Sudan and Myanmar. The displaced population now mirrors the population size of Japan.

“Conflict remains a very, very big driver of mass displacement” stated UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi.

At the end of 2022, 117.3 million people were displaced, and this number grew to 120 million by April 2023.

This marks a significant increase from 110 million the previous year, continuing a 12-year trend of rising displacement figures.

Reflecting on his eight-year tenure, Grandi noted that the displacement numbers have more than doubled. He called it “a terrible indictment on the state of the world”.

He also highlighted climate change as a factor exacerbating the crisis, driving both conflicts and population movements.

International law disregarded

The UNHCR declared 43 emergencies across 29 countries last year, a four-fold increase over previous years.

Grandi noted “the way conflicts are conducted … in complete disregard” of international law and “often with the specific purpose of terrorising people”.

“This, of course, is a powerful contributor to more displacement.”

The UNHCR’s report detailed that of the 117.3 million forcibly displaced at the end of 2023, 68.3 million were internally displaced within their countries.

The number of refugees and those needing international protection rose to 43.4 million.

Contrary to popular belief, most refugees do not migrate to wealthy nations.

“The vast majority of refugees are hosted in countries neighbouring 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 UNHCR said.

Displacement figures will continue to rise

Since it began in April 2023, Sudan’s civil war has displaced over nine million people, contributing significantly to the rising numbers. Many Sudanese continue to seek refuge in Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations. Similarly, ongoing conflicts in Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to millions being displaced.

In Gaza the UN estimates that 1.7 million people, or 75 percent of the population, have been displaced due to the conflict. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine, following Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, has resulted in 750,000 newly displaced individuals within the country, with a total of 3.7 million internally displaced people by the end of 2023.

The UNHCR predicts that figures for those forcibly displaced will continue to rise unless there is a significant shift in international geopolitics.


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