One in Every 113 Humans Displaced [and Rapidly Counting]
Posted by feww on June 20, 2016
Forced displacement hits record high: UNHCR
Global forced displacement escalate sharply in 2015 due to ongoing conflict and persecution, “reaching the highest level ever recorded and representing immense human suffering, according to a report released today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.”
UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, which tracks forced displacement worldwide based on data from governments, partners including the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, and the organization’s own reporting, said 65.3 million people were displaced as of the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier. This is the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.
Of the 65.3 million total, about comprises 3.2 million are in industrialized countries awaiting decisions (as of end 2015) on asylum (the largest total UNHCR has recorded), 21.3 million refugees worldwide (1.8 million more than in 2014 and the highest refugee total since the early 1990s), and 40.8 million were IDPs, people who forced to flee their homes but remained within the confines of their own countries (an increase of 2.6 million from 2014 and the highest number on record).
Based on Earth’s 7.349 billion population, these numbers show that 1 in every 113 people globally is currently either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee. The numbers are comparable to the 2015 populations of UK (64.7 million), France (64.4 million) and Italy (59.8 million).
Forced displacement has been on the rise since at least the mid-1990s in most regions, but over the past five years the rate of climb has increased. The reasons are threefold: Situations that cause large refugee outflows are lasting longer (for example, conflicts in Somalia or Afghanistan are now into their third and fourth decades, respectively), dramatic new or reignited situations are occurring frequently (today’s largest being Syria, but also in the space of the past five years South Sudan, Yemen, Burundi, Ukraine, Central African Republic, etc.), and the rate at which solutions are being found for refugees and internally displaced people has been on a falling trend since the end of the Cold War. As recently as 10 years ago, at the end of 2005, UNHCR recorded an average of six people displaced every minute. Today that number is 24 per minute – almost double the typical frequency at which adults breathe.
“More people are being displaced by war and persecution and that’s worrying in itself, but the factors that endanger refugees are multiplying too,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year; on land, people fleeing war are finding their way blocked by closed borders. Politics is gravitating against asylum in some countries. The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail.”
Three countries produce half the world’s refugees…
Among countries covered by the Global Trends report several stand out: Syria at 4.9 million, Afghanistan at 2.7 million and Somalia at 1.1 million together accounted for more than half the refugees under UNHCR’s mandate worldwide. Colombia at 6.9 million, Syria at 6.6 million, and Iraq at 4.4 million meanwhile had the largest numbers of internally displaced people. Yemen was the biggest producer of new internal displacement in 2015 – 2.5 million people, or 9 per cent of its population.
Half the world’s refugees are children
Children constituted 51 per cent of the world’s refugees in 2015 according to the data UNHCR was able to gather (complete demographic data was not available to the report authors). Worryingly, many were separated from their parents or travelling alone. In all there were 98,400 asylum requests from children who were unaccompanied or separated from their families. This is the highest total UNHCR has seen – and a tragic reflection of how global forced displacement is disproportionately affecting young lives.
UNHCR’s Global Trends Report is being released on World Refugee Day, 20 June, in conjunction with our #WithRefugees petition campaign. A full multimedia package is available in connection with the Global Trends report, including infographics, photos, video materials and other products.