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1 person in every 80 has now been forced to flee their home
2022 has already been extraordinary by any metric, but one outcome from the last six months is more staggering than any other: this year has seen the number of displaced people pass 100 million for the first time[i].
If one were to combine the populations of the UK and Australia, the result would still be over 4 million short of the number of people today who have been forced to flee their homes.
It equates to 1.25% of the world’s population, or 1 person in every 80. If this ratio were spread evenly across the globe, that would mean just under 850,000 people in the UK being forced from their homes for reasons ranging from conflict to persecution – and increasingly – to climate change.
How did we get to a situation where there are 40 million more displaced people today than were forced from their homes during WWII?
Unsurprisingly, war in Ukraine has been a key factor, with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, estimating that the conflict has internally displaced 8 million while forcing 6 million more out of the country[ii].
However, there were already 90 million displaced people worldwide by the end of 2021[iii]. While the war in Ukraine has contributed massively to global displacement numbers, passing this figure was inevitable, as statistics from other parts of the world show.
Key drivers of refugee numbers also include Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan and South Sudan (both 2.6 million), while the largest figures for internally displaced persons (IDPs – people who haven’t crossed a border) after Ukraine are Syria (6.6 million), Ethiopia (5.5 million) and the DRC (5.2 million)[iv].
The other important question then is to ask where have 100m people been displaced to?
A crucial, and often overlooked, point is that well over half have not crossed into a different country. As of the end of 2021 the total number of IDPS totalled 59 million[v], or just under 2/3s of displaced people at the time.
As for which countries host the most refugees, obtaining accurate up-to-date data is difficult given how many Ukrainians have been forced out of the country in such a short time.
What is beyond doubt is that countries with developing economies continue to host the vast majority of refugees: the top four refugee-hosting countries at the end of 2021 were Turkey (3.8m), Colombia (1.8m), Uganda and Pakistan (both 1.5m).
This trend is even more pronounced when one looks at refugees as a proportion of a host nation’s population. While Uganda (3.7%), Turkey (5%) and Nauru (6.8%) already represent enormous numbers, the figures for Jordan (10%) and Lebanon (19.8%) are nothing short of astonishing[vi].
While displacement numbers are hard to fully grasp, the message is clear: there has never been a more urgent time for the international community to protect people who have been forced to flee while addressing the root causes of what makes people leave their homes. Otherwise, it is a question of when, not if, the next grim displacement milestone is passed.
By Ben Willy, HART Volunteer
Although all blog posts are reviewed by an editorial team, our blog authors all write in a personal capacity and the views expressed are not necessarily those of HART.