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Global displaced population passes 100m for first time

The UN refugee agency regrettably states that the global population of forcibly displaced people has passed 100m for the first time. This ‘staggering milestone’ calls for urgent action to address the underlying causes.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sealed it, at least 14m people have been pushed from their homes bringing the global total of forcibly displaced people to over 100m.

This marks the first time that this disconcerting number has been breached, and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is now calling for international action to address some of the root causes.

Following the grim announcement, officials are immediately pointing to the sheer number of ongoing conflicts – and their many respective human rights violations – as the key driver of this sudden influx of refugees, though there are others, of course.

‘One hundred million is a stark figure – sobering and alarming in equal measure,’ said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees.

He’s not wrong either. This unwanted record represents roughly 1% of the entire global population and is equivalent to the world’s 14th most populous countries, including Egypt.

According to the UNHCR, the number of displaced people rose to around 90m in 2021, largely propelled by waves of violence in nations like Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The recorded 14m internal displacements in this time represented a 50% increase on the previous year, suggesting inter-regional hostility is becoming a more sizable issue over time.

Combine this with the 8m currently condemned to roam throughout Ukraine without a home, and the 6m who’ve managed to escape (or been exiled from) the country’s borders, and there’s the extra 14m for where we find ourselves today.

Compounding the crisis, the overall situation is being exacerbated by major weather events such as cyclones, floods, and storms, which are becoming increasingly severe as our climate warms.

We’ve recently written about how – particularly in coastal regions – the resulting damage is prompting internal migration within countries like Bangladesh, and is leading to problems with overpopulation and worsening living conditions.

Meanwhile, many developing territories within Latin America, Africa, and Asia are still dealing with the fallout wreaked upon them by Covid-19 and a lack of infrastructure to navigate it safely. The report states that this too is a significant influence in the latest displacement figures.

The extent of each contributing factor will be narrowed down more precisely in the UNHCR’s Global Trends report on June 16, so potential solutions can start to be weighed up logistically.

As things stand today, however, we’re worryingly reliant on humanitarian work and the compassion of volunteers to make any notable difference. As Grandi explains, ‘Ultimately humanitarian aid is a palliative, not a cure.’

‘To reverse this trend the only answer is peace and stability so that innocent people are not forced to gamble between acute danger at home or precarious flight or exile.’

In terms of a genuine roadmap to curbing the growing numbers of displaced people, things are still sounding vague as ever. We’ll see what developments crop up over the coming weeks.