Fueled by conflicts across the globe, more people than ever before in human history were forced from their homes last year, and there is no indication that this trend is slowing down.
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Fueled by conflicts across the globe, more people than ever before in human history were forced from their homes last year, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced today. And there is no indication that this trend is slowing down.
At the end of 2022, an estimated 108.4 million people were displaced by war, persecution, violence, and human rights abuses. That figure increased by a staggering 19.1 million from the previous year, the latest UNHCR report showed.
Refugees, which means people who left their own country to get to safety, made up about one-third of that total. Most of the rest were persons displaced internally.
The war in Ukraine was the biggest driver of this increase. Russia’s invasion forced 5.7 million people to flee their country, which UNHCR said is the fastest outflow of refugees anywhere since World War II.
“These figures show us that some people are far too quick to rush to conflict, and way too slow to find solutions,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said. “The consequence is devastation, displacement, and anguish for each of the millions of people forcibly uprooted from their homes.”
So far this year, more than a million people were added to this total, in part because of a new conflict in Sudan.
A striking aspect of this report is that most of these refugees do not end up in the world’s wealthiest nations, but rather in low- and middle-income countries.
So when you hear American politicians talk about a “refugee crisis” at the southern border, keep in mind that it is not the US that is shouldering the burden of providing new homes to people forced from theirs due to fear for their own safety.
UNHCR found that the 46 least-developed countries, which account for just a bit more than one percent of the global gross domestic product, are hosting more than 20 percent of all refugees.
“People around the world continue to show extraordinary hospitality for refugees as they extend protection and help to those in need,” said Grandi. “But much more international support and more equitable responsibility sharing is required, especially with those countries that are hosting most of the world’s displaced.”
That starts with ending conflicts to allow people to return home.
Of course, that seems a lot to ask because these conflicts are good for business. As WhoWhatWhy reported global military expenditures reached a new record of $2.2 trillion last year. There is a correlation between these figures, and a fraction of that money would go a long way toward helping poor countries accommodate refugees.
“Above all, much more must be done to end conflict and remove obstacles so that refugees have the viable option to return home voluntarily, safely and with dignity,” Grandi said.
In one positive note, the report shows that 5.7 million internally displaced persons, approximately 10 percent of the total, returned to their homes.