GENEVA - The U.N. refugee agency, which just released its 2020 Global Trends report, said the number of people forcibly displaced last year by wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations hit a record high of 82.4 million, 4% more than in 2019.
This is the ninth consecutive year that forced displacement figures have continued to rise. Even lockdowns and border closures because of the coronavirus pandemic have not stopped people from fleeing for their lives in the face of war and atrocities.
Of the more than 82 million forcibly displaced, 26.4 million are refugees, who have crossed international borders in search of protection. Most of the rest are people displaced within their own countries because of conflict and violence.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the number of internally displaced people has doubled over the past 10 years.
“We are now in excess of one percent of humanity being forcibly displaced,” Grandi said. “And one of the many figures that to me is quite interesting and striking is that 42% of these people are children.”
The report found that more than two-thirds of all refugees who have fled abroad come from just five countries — Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. For the seventh consecutive year, Turkey has hosted the largest number of refugees, followed by Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda, and Germany.
Grandi said new crises that have caused fresh displacements include northern Mozambique, where violence by armed groups, poverty, climate change and other factors have displaced up to 700,000 people.
He said violence in countries in the Central Sahel, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, has prompted 750,000 people to flee their homes.
“And then, of course, Ethiopia, where the Tigray crisis has provoked up to — and we are not even sure about that — up to 1 million additional internally displaced people in addition to about 50 to 60,000 that have crossed the border into Sudan.”
High Commissioner Grandi said the global trend for displacement crises in 2021 is not looking good. In the first six months of this year, he said, very few refugees have returned home and protracted refugee crises have stagnated.
At the same time, he said, new crises are arising, churning out new refugees and internally displaced people faster than solutions can be found.