The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution has crossed the milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts, the UN refugee agency said Monday.
UNHCR said the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide approached 90 million by the end of 2021, propelled by new waves of violence or protracted conflict in countries including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Congo.
The 100 million figure represents more than 1% of the world’s population and comprises refugees and asylum-seekers as well as people displaced inside their own countries by conflict — a figure that the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre recently put at 53.2 million — the UNCHR said in a statement.
One hundred million is a stark figure — sobering and alarming in equal measure,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “It’s a record that should never have been set.
“This must serve as a wake-up call to resolve and prevent destructive conflicts, end persecution and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes,” Grandi added.
The international response to people fleeing war in Ukraine has been overwhelmingly positive,” Grandi said. “Compassion is alive and we need a similar mobilisation for all crises around the world.”
However, Grandi pointed out that ultimately “humanitarian aid is palliative, not a cure.”
“To reverse this trend, the only answer is peace and stability so that innocent people are not forced to gamble between acute danger at home or precarious flight and exile,” Grandi said.
In addition to the war in Ukraine, the withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban have contributed substantially to the numbers fleeing in the hope of achieving a better life.
And then there’s the situation in Yemen where civil war has led to the deaths of thousands of people and forced thousands more to flee. The ongoing internal conflict between the government and Houthi rebels began in 2014.
Further east in Myanmar the Rohingya crisis continues. In 2015, tens of thousands of civilians were forced to flee their villages and IDP camps due to sectarian violence. The UN estimates at least 50,000 people left for other countries in Southeast Asia.