A United Nations report found that as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated some pre-existing drivers, the number of forcibly displaced persons reached a new high at the end of 2020.
In a report released on Friday, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) found that by the end of 2020, 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced globally, the highest number on record.
It was 41 million in 2012 and 79.5 million in 2019.
As a result, more than 1% of the world’s population, 1 out of 95 people, are now forcibly displaced. In comparison, it was one in 159 in 2010.
The report found: “The dynamics of poverty, food insecurity, climate change, conflict, and displacement are increasingly interconnected and mutually reinforcing, driving more and more people to seek safety and security.”
The United Nations stated that despite the overall decline in 2020, nearly half of the world’s reported conflicts and violent incidents have increased, and “due to protracted conflicts, extreme weather and the economic impact of COVID, the scale of the food crisis in 2020 will increase. The severity has deteriorated further -19 exacerbating the pre-existing situation”.
Although people trying to apply for asylum face “unprecedented challenges” in 2020, and new applications have dropped by 1 million, the United Nations found that the number of refugees worldwide has increased from 20.4 million in 2019 to nearly 20.7 million by the end of 2020.
Approximately 21,000 unaccompanied or separated children filed new asylum applications in 2020, up from 25,000 a year ago.
For every 10 cross-border displaced persons, 8 are from 10 countries; Syrians top the list with 6.8 million, followed by Venezuelans with 4 million.
Turkey hosted nearly 3.7 million refugees in 2020, making it the most populous country in the world.
At the same time, the number of internally displaced persons (IDP) is 48 million-the highest level on record.
Colombia still reports the highest number of internally displaced persons, with 8.3 million internally displaced persons by the end of 2020.
In the early stages of the pandemic, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration were forced to suspend their resettlement departures for several months, but they were restored.
The report found: “With many governments closing borders and restricting internal movement for a long time, only a few refugees and internally displaced persons can take advantage of solutions such as voluntary return or resettlement to a third country.”
Only 34,400 refugees were resettled to third countries, a decrease of 69% compared to 2019. It is estimated that approximately 1.4 million refugees need resettlement.
The United Nations stated that the 2021 food crisis forecast is “just as worrying”, with countries such as South Sudan, Syria and the Central African Republic facing famine risks.
Similarly, according to data from the World Bank, the number of people trapped in extreme poverty due to COVID-19 is expected to rise to an unprecedented level-between 119 million and 124 million in 2020.
“Based on this trajectory, the question is no longer whether more than 100 million people will be forcibly displaced — but when,” the United Nations said.
“Obviously, the need to prevent conflicts and ensure solutions for the displaced has never been more urgent,” it added.
However, the report says that as the US government announces that it will accept more resettlement refugees, there are some hopeful signs-it will reach 62,500 in 2021 and 125,000 in 2022.
Colombia also announced in February that it would grant temporary protection status to more than 1 million Venezuelans.