Published 10/26/2023 18:04 | Edited 10/26/2023 18:24
There are statistics that are born out of date. This is the case with the estimated total number of refugees across the Planet. This Wednesday (25), UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) announced that there were more than 114 million forcibly displaced people in the world – due to war, persecution, violence or human rights violations.
The problem is that the UNHCR count was completed in September this year, on the eve of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip, which began in October. The numbers were already growing. At the end of 2022, there were 108.4 million refugees. In June this year, it reached 110 million. The first six months of the year were also marked by a record number of individual asylum requests: 1.6 million.
In your Semi-Annual Trends Report – which analyzed forced displacements from January to June –, UNHCR attributes the upward bias to a series of factors: war in Ukraine; conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar; drought, floods and insecurity in Somalia; and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Started 20 days ago, the conflict in Gaza – which has already left more than 6,000 people dead, including at least 2,000 Palestinian children – attracted the spotlight of the international community and dominated debates at the UN Security Council. For Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, attention must also be paid to other sources of forced displacement – which cause an increase in poverty.
“The world’s focus is now – and rightly so – on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. But globally, many conflicts are proliferating or escalating, destroying innocent lives and uprooting people,” recalled Grandi. “The inability of the international community to resolve or prevent conflicts causes displacement and misery. We must look inward, work together to end conflict and enable refugees and displaced people to return to their homes or restart their lives.”
The fact that 4 million people were forcibly displaced in the short period between June and September scared the UNHCR. “As we watch events unfold in Gaza, the prospect of peace and solutions for refugees and other displaced populations may seem distant in Sudan and elsewhere. But we can’t give up”, concluded Grandi.
This year, between December 13th and 15th, the 2nd Global Refugee Forum will take place in Geneva, Switzerland. “Governments, refugees, local authorities, international organizations, civil society and the private sector will come together to strengthen the global response and seek solutions to record levels of displacement”, informs UNHCR.