The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, also known as the United Nations Refugee Agency) has updated the numbers relating to refugees and displaced people. The numbers available refer to 2021, although some of them also include data from 2022. These figures do not consider the effects of the war in Ukraine, which started in February 2022.
At the end of 2021 the number of people forcibly displaced had almost reached 90 million. 21.3 million are considered refugees under the UNHCR mandate. 5.8 million of these are Palestinian refugees under the UNRWA mandate. A further 53.2 million are internally displaced people. 4.6 million are asylum seekers. 4.4 million are Venezuelan displaced abroad. Millions of people are stateless and lack access to education, health care, employment, and do not have freedom of movement. According to these data 1 out of every 89 people living on Earth (more than 1% of world’s population) has been forced to leave their home.
If we look into some of the data, we notice that:
- The majority of refugees, around 83%, are hosted in both low and middle income countries. This means that only 17% have been received into higher income countries.
- 69% of the refugees, including the Venezuelans displaced abroad, come from just 5 countries: Syria with 6.8 million refugees, Venezuela 4.6 million, Afghanistan 2.7 million, South Sudan 2.4 million and Myanmar 1.2 million.
- Almost 10 million refugees are hosted by only 5 countries which are: Turkey (which alone is hosting 3.8 million), Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan and Germany.
- 41% of all forcibly displaced people are children.
- 7 million displaced people returned to their homes or countries of origin in 2021.
- 57,500 refugees have resettled in a foreign country.
Numbers of refugees have alarmingly increased every year during the last decade. The major cause behind the new displacements are armed conflicts and as so often happens, women, the elderly and children are the most severely affected. The regions that have witnessed new or further displacements are located particularly in central Africa. These nations are Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Mozambique, which is the only one situated along the South-East African coast.
If we consider the effects caused by the Ukrainian conflict, we need to add more than 7 million Ukrainians who have been displaced internally. Also, since the beginning of the war, about 7 more million have entered European countries for rehoming during the crisis. A single event of war has caused one of the greatest displacements of people in human history since War World II. The only consolation is that these recent Ukrainian refugees have been mainly hosted by high income countries, which have offered them a good measure of support. At this very moment, we know that more than 100 million people have been displaced around the globe. This is a disaster of such magnitude that the governments of the world can no longer ignore it. We hope they will meet this challenge with a greater response. For our part, we will continue to add our small but effective contribution of offering free education to as many refugees and displaced people as we are able.
30th September 2022