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Forced displacement on the rise – UN report

4 December 20230 comments

More than 114 million people are likely forcibly displaced by war, persecution, violence, and human rights around the world by the end of this year, according to a new report from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.

At the end of June 2023, 110 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations, the ‘Mid-Year Trends 2023’ report said.

This represents an increase of more than 1.6 million people, or one per cent, compared to the end of 2022, when forced displacement stood at 108.5 million people.

But the numbers do not include the thousands currently being displaced in Gaza.

More than 1 in 73 people worldwide are now forcibly displaced as a result, with the majority – almost 90 per cent – living in low-and middle-income countries, the report said.

In the first six months of the year, seven major displacement situations accounted for an estimated 90 per cent of new displacements globally.

 These include ongoing and new conflicts and humanitarian situations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Latin America and Caribbean countries, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Ukraine.

Based on UNHCR estimates, the number of people forced to flee has likely grown during the following three months, and at the end of September 2023, it is expected to have exceeded 114 million people.

The global refugee population reached 36.4 million at mid-2023, an increase of 4 per cent, or 1.1 million, from the end of 2022, driven by increasing numbers of refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria and Ukraine.

The number has doubled in the past seven years.

Included in the number were 5.3 million other people in need of international protection, bringing the total number of refugees and people in refugee-like situations to 35.8 million.

As of mid-2023, the top five countries of origin for refugees and individuals in need of international protection are Syria (6.5 million), followed by Afghanistan (6.1 million), Ukraine (6 million), Venezuela (5.6 million) and South Sudan (2.2 million).

The first six months of 2023 saw Iran surpass Turkey as the largest refugee-hosting country, with 3.4 million refugees, predominantly from Afghanistan, now taking refuge within the country. In Turkey the number of refugees decreased by almost 200,000 to 3.4 million. This was followed by Germany (2.5 million), Colombia (2.5 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).

The report says most refugees want to return home once it is safe to do so. In the first half of 2023, 404,000 refugees were able to return.

It says internally displaced people, or IDPs, accounted for 57 per cent of all forcibly displaced people in mid-2023.

An estimated 6.8 million new internal displacements occurred during the first six months of 2023, mostly in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ukraine and Myanmar.

The report includes two snapshots of refugee situations in Sudan and Ukraine.

“In April 2023, war broke out between the Sudanese Army Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in the capital city Khartoum before quickly spreading to other parts of the country<” the report says.

“By the end of June 2023, more than 3 million people had been displaced within the country by the conflict. In addition, almost a quarter of a million Sudanese, along with over 163,000 people of other nationalities – mostly refugees previously living in Sudan – fled to neighbouring countries, primarily Chad and South Sudan.

“Without a resolution to the crisis, UNHCR and its partners estimate that the number of refugees and returnees forced to flee could reach 1.8 million by the end of 2023.”

On Ukraine, the report says: “The report says that more than a year after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, people continued to flee. In the first six months of 2023, more than 1.1 million Ukrainians were newly displaced, with just under half remaining within their country, and most others fleeing to other European countries”.

“However, during the same period, almost 1.1 million Ukrainian IDPs were able to return to their place of origin while 197,000 refugees also returned.

“Overall, while the number of forcibly displaced Ukrainians declined slightly to 11 million, this equates to over one-quarter of the population still displaced at mid-2023.”

Read more here: Mid-Year Trends | UNHCR Australia