The annual Global Trends Report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) highlighted that globally 100 million people were forced to flee their homes last year due to violence, human rights abuses, food insecurity, the climate crisis, war in Ukraine and other emergencies from Africa to Afghanistan.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), in 2021, there were 23.7 million new internal displacements globally due to disasters (these are in addition to those internally displaced due to conflict and violence). This represented a decrease of seven million, or 23 per cent, compared to the previous year, the report said.
"The largest displacements in the context of disasters in 2021 occurred in China (6.0 million), the Philippines (5.7 million) and India (4.9 million). Most disaster displacements during the year were temporary," it said.
The majority of the internally displaced persons returned to their home areas, but 5.9 million people worldwide remained displaced at the end of the year due to disasters, the report added.
The UN agency said that the number of people forced to flee their homes has increased every year over the past decade and stands at the highest level since records began, a trend that can be only reversed by a new, concerted push towards peacemaking.
By the end of 2021, those displaced by war, violence, persecution, and human rights abuses stood at 89.3 million, up eight per cent on a year earlier and well over double the figure of 10 years ago, the report said.
While the latest global trends report reflects the period of January 2021 to December 2021, the UN agency said it is impossible to ignore the developments that have happened in early 2022, including the Russian war against Ukraine.
"Since then, the Russian invasion of Ukraine causing the fastest and one of the largest forced displacement crises since World War II and other emergencies, from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond, pushed the figure over the dramatic milestone of 100 million," the report said.
The report said that at the end of 2021, 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide, including 27.1 million refugees, 21.3 million refugees under UNHCR's mandate, 5.8 million Palestine refugees under United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East's (UNRWA) mandate, 53.2 million internally displaced people, 4.6 million asylum seekers and 4.4 million Venezuelans displaced abroad.
Asylum seekers submitted 1.4 million new claims. The United States of America was the world's largest recipient of new individual applications (188,900), followed by Germany (148,200), Mexico (132,700), Costa Rica (108,500) and France (90,200).
By May 2022, more than 100 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide by persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order.
"Every year of the last decade, the numbers have climbed," said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. "Either the international community comes together to take action to address this human tragedy, resolve conflicts and find lasting solutions, or this terrible trend will continue."
Last year was notable for the number of conflicts that escalated and new ones that flared; 23 countries, with a combined population of 850 million, faced medium- or high-intensity conflicts, according to the World Bank.
The UN agency said that food scarcity, inflation and the climate crisis are adding to people's hardship. The number of refugees rose in 2021 to 27.1 million. Arrivals climbed in Uganda, Chad and Sudan among others, it added.
"Most refugees were, once again, hosted by neighbouring countries with few resources. The number of asylum seekers reached 4.6 million, up 11 per cent," the report said.
Last year also saw the 15th straight annual rise in people displaced within their countries by conflict, to 53.2 million. The increase was driven by mounting violence or conflict in some places, for example Myanmar.
The conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray and other regions has spurred the flight of millions within the country. Insurgencies in the Sahel drove fresh internal displacement, particularly in Burkina Faso and Chad.
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