The total number of refugees now stands at 82 million and will soon reach 100 million. Syria tops the list, with 6.8 million people fleeing war and violence with a total of 13.5 million displaced. Turkey is the country that hosts the most. Between 2018 and 2020, at least one million children were born as refugees.
Damascus (AsiaNews) – The number of people in the world forced to leave their homes has risen in the last year to a record 82 million despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reduction in worldwide travel, this according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The total number of refugees has more than doubled in the last decade, resulting in more than 1 per cent of the world's total population being displaced, far from home and not always by choice.
According to a report by the UN refugee agency, the global pandemic has caused a significant drop in asylum applications and has generally put a brake on migration.
However, the 11.2 million people displaced last year was still more than in 2019. Many were forced to flee because of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations.
The vast majority are internally displaced persons, not least because of travel restrictions and border closures have made it in nearly impossible to cross international borders.
As a result, only 250,000 refugees were able to return to their countries of origin and only 34,000 were able to be resettled in third countries, the UNHCR said in its Global Trends Report.
The UNHCR said it was only a matter of time before the number of displaced people worldwide tops 100 million.
About 80 per cent of refugees come from only 10 countries, 67 per cent if only the top five nations in the world are considered.
Syrians fleeing war and violence top the list with 6.8 million, whilst a total 13.5 million Syrians (more than half the population) have been displaced since the conflict began in spring 2011. Venezuelans follow with four million.
Turkey, on the other hand, hosted the largest number of refugees in 2020: 3.7 million.
The displaced population also includes a growing number of children, deprived of the right to study and grow up. UNHCR estimates that between 2018 and 2020 at least one million children were born as refugees.
The UN agency expects conflicts to intensify this year, as restrictions imposed to contain the global coronavirus pandemic are eased.
The food emergency, ongoing conflicts, and extreme weather phenomena, including global warming, will further reduce food stocks and cause crises.
For experts, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Syria are still at risk of famine.
Finally, as a result of the pandemic, the number of people in extreme poverty in the world is expected to reach between 119 and 124 million.
More than half of displaced people – some 48 million – are internally displaced.