More people were displaced worldwide by conflict or persecution in 2018 than at any time in the last 70 years, a new report from the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has found.
The total number of forcibly displaced people now exceeds 70 million – twice as many as were displaced 20 years ago and roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Thailand and Turkey. The figure also exceeds 2017’s total by about 2.3 million.
About half of all refugees today are children, more than 100,000 of which are alone and without their families.
The report warns to overall growth in displacement continues to exceed the rate at which solutions are being found.
In 2018, only about 92,400 refugees were resettled to a safe host country – less than seven percent of the total number awaiting resettlement.
A new analysis from the International Rescue Committee found that “artificially reduced processing capacity has further reduced admissions.”
“Led by the US, there has been a nearly 50 percent decline in global resettlement slots,” the committee reported.
With these bleak figures in mind, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged people around the world to show solidarity with those whose lives have been uprooted, adding that the global displacement crisis represents “one of the great challenges of our times.”
Tens of millions of people have been forced to flee their homes. This is where they come from. pic.twitter.com/2WNUbYGvd3
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 19, 2019
“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees,” he said.
“We must build on these positive examples and redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.”
According to UNHCR, 2018’s figure of 70 million forcibly displaced people is a conservative estimate.
The agency explained that Venezuelans who have fled the country in the last year are likely underrepresented in the total, in part because many of them have not applied for asylum in the host countries they’ve arrived in.
Venezuela remains in the midst of political turmoil as President Nicolas Maduro clings to power despite a severe economic crisis and an aggressive campaign led by the United States aimed at ousting him.
Maduro has been widely criticized for alleged corruption, repression, and incompetence in managing the economy, but research shows that American sanctions have also severely exacerbated the country’s already poor humanitarian conditions, leading to an estimated 40,000 deaths.
Citing data from governments in host countries, UNHCR estimates that about four million Venezuelans have fled the country, making it one of the world’s worst recent displacement crises.
The agency classifies forcibly displaced people under three main categories – refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The number of refugees, defined as “people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war or persecution,” reached nearly 26 million, more than 500,000 more than the previous year.
There were about 3.5 million asylum seekers, defined as “people outside their country of origin and receiving international protection, but awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status.” The largest group were IDPs, who totaled 41.3 million.