Almost 80 million people displaced worldwide, a record

Refugees and migrants wait to board a bus after arriving at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, on May 4, 2020.

They represent more than 1% of humanity: nearly 80 million people have had to leave their homes to flee violence and persecution and live today far from home, according to the United Nations (UN). A record figure.

The latest report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), released Thursday, June 18, estimates that by the end of 2019 some 79.5 million people were refugees, asylum seekers or “Uprooted” in their own country, with fewer and fewer prospects of returning to their region of origin.

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“One percent of the world’s population cannot return home due to wars, persecution, human rights violations and other forms of violence”, said UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“This is a trend observed since 2012: the figures are higher than the previous year”, adds Filippo Grandi, for whom that means “That there have been more conflicts, more violence”. It also translates “Insufficient political solutions” committed to ending the crises driving people out of their homes and preventing them from returning. Ten years ago, the number of displaced people was 40 million, he said. “So it doubled. And we don’t see the trend slowing down.

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68% of refugees come from five countries

The UNHCR report shows that 45.7 million people have fled to other parts of their country, 26 million are refugees living outside their borders. Some 4.2 million are asylum seekers, in addition to 3.6 million Venezuelans who are counted separately.

“The international community is so divided, so incapable of making peace that, unfortunately, the situation will continue to worsen, and I very much fear that next year will be even worse than this year”, alarmed Mr. Grandi.

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In 2019 alone, UNHCR reports an additional 11 million internally displaced people, largely in a small number of war-torn countries. Among them, Syria, devastated by nine years of armed conflict and which has 13.2 million internally displaced people inside or outside the country, one sixth of the total. No less than 68% of all the refugees registered in the world come from five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Burma.

Clear, “If the international community had managed to find the unity, the political will and the resources to help these countries get out of the crisis and rebuild themselves, most probably we would have solved more than half of the world’s problems [relatifs aux réfugiés] , he advances.

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“Dramatic” increase in poverty

If the report does not mention the outbreak of the pandemic due to the new coronavirus in the problem of displaced people, it adds to the plight of the people concerned in a context where it is repeated that “Moving has consequences for oneself and for others”. And the economic impact of the pandemic is dramatic in poor and developing countries.

“What we have seen dramatically increase is poverty”, confinement does not allow many displaced people to find sources of income, according to Filippo Grandi.

Under these circumstances, and despite restrictions on mobility, countries must continue to grant asylum to those in need. “Unfortunately, people continue to flee their homes, whether pandemic or not, they are threatened (…) and they still need refuge, protection, asylum “, insists the head of the HCR.

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The World with AFP

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