UN Refugee Agency reports record number of forcibly displaced people in 2023 News
Henry Wilkins/VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
UN Refugee Agency reports record number of forcibly displaced people in 2023

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on Thursday that a record number of 117.3 million people around the world were forcibly displaced at the end of 2023. The agency expects this number to rise to over 120 million cases by the end of this year.

According to the report, a pivotal factor in forced displacement is conflict. The UNHCR links this phenomenon with the failure of states to uphold peace and security. The UNHCR includes among the causes of forced displacement in 2023 the situations in Sudan, Myanmar and Palestine. The conflict in Sudan led to 6 million people being internally displaced (IDPs) and 1.2 million people forced into neighbouring countries. In Myanmar, the military coup of 2021 produced 1.2 million IDPs, and over 75 percent of the population in Gaza was displaced between October and December amid the ongoing conflict in the enclave.

International law prohibits forced displacement. Mechanisms such as human rights included in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) reflect state obligations to protect individuals from forced displacement. For instance, the right of liberty of movement and to choose residence in Article 12 and the right not to be subjected to interference to home and privacy in Article 17 shield individuals from forced displacement. Despite the fact that Article 4 of the ICCPR states that some of these obligations can be derogated in times of public emergencies, such as conflicts (which are one of the major causes of enforced displacement), humanitarian law still ensures civilians must be treated humanely and be spared as much as possible from the effects of conflicts.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi stated after releasing the report, “Behind these numbers lie as many human tragedies, which only solidarity and concerted action can alleviate and solve.” Grandi urged the “international community to act urgently to tackle the root causes of forced displacement.”