UN refugee agency reports that nearly 80 million people were forcibly displaced by 2020
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UN refugee agency reports that nearly 80 million people were forcibly displaced by 2020

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on Thursday that more than one percent of the worlds population, nearly 80 million people, had been forcibly displaced by the end of last year according to the UNHCR’s global trend report.

The UNHCR’s global trend report is an annual study whose goal is to track the “UNHCR’s populations of concern and deepen public understanding of ongoing crises.” The report “counts and tracks the numbers of refugees, internally displaced people, people who have returned to their countries or areas of origin, asylum-seekers, stateless people, and other populations of concern to UNHCR.” Forcible displacement includes all those who flee their homes due to war, conflict or persecution and seek safety either within their home country or abroad.

More people than at any other point since the beginning of the report were forcibly displaced by the end of 2019. The Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, stated, “[w]e are witnessing a changed reality in that forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon.” There is an emerging trend that few of those displaced were able to return home. However, it is encouraging that many more than previous years were able to achieve long term stability within their new country.

This UNHCR found that “there were 79.5 million people around the world who had been forcibly displaced, according to the yearly report, up from 70.8 million the year before.” They attribute this increase “in part due to worrying new displacement in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel region of Africa, Yemen and Syria.” The report also “reflected the inclusion for the first time of 3.6 million Venezuelans who have been displaced outside their country but who have not sought asylum.”

The 79.5 million people consist of 26 million refugees, 4.2 million asylum seekers, 3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad and 45.7 million internally displaced people. It is estimated that 40% of those people, between 30-34 million, are under the age of 18. In 2019, asylum seekers “submitted 2 million new claims.” The US was the largest recipient at 301,000, followed by Peru at 259,800, Germany at 142,500, France at 123,900, and Spain at 118,300. There were also 5.6 million displaced people that were returned home last year as well as 107,800 refugees that were successfully resettled.

“More than two thirds of all refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad came from just five countries.” Syria had 6.6 million, Venezuela 3.7 million, Afghanistan 2.7 million, South Sudan 2.2 million, and Myanmar 1.1 million. Turkey hosted the world’s largest number of refugees, with 3.6 million people. Colombia was second with 1.8 million (including Venezuelans), Pakistan was third with 1.4 million, Uganda was forth at 1.4 million, and Germany was fifth with 1.1 million.

However, “relative to their national populations, the island of Aruba hosted the largest number of Venezuelans displaced abroad (1 in 6) while Lebanon hosted the largest number of refugees (1 in 7).”

The report emphasized that if the world is to best serve these populations and keep the numbers from increasing next year countries must continue to offer new pathways for resettling these people and commit to following the Three-Year Strategy (2019-2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways.