Wars, violence and persecution have driven record numbers of people from their homes worldwide, according to the latest annual study by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
The yearly Global Trends report found that 70.8 million children, women and men were forcibly displaced at the close of 2018, the highest number in the organization’s almost 70-year history.
This is twice as many people as 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than the previous year, and is greater than the population of Thailand.
Worryingly, this global figure is probably on the low side. The crisis in Venezuela, in particular, is still only partly reflected in the total. In all, some four million Venezuelans have left their country, making this one of the world’s biggest current displacement crises.
Overall, an estimated 13.6 million people became newly displaced during the year due to wars or persecution, a number equivalent to the population of Tokyo, and greater than that of Moscow and Manila. The total included 10.8 million IDPs and 2.8 million new refugees and asylum-seekers.
The growth in displacement continued to outpace the rate at which solutions are being found for people who become displaced. With refugees, the best solution is being able to return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity.
• CHILDREN: In 2018, every second refugee was a child, many (111,000) alone and without their families.
• TODDLERS: Uganda reported 2,800 refugee children aged five or below alone or separated from their families.
• URBAN PHENOMENON: As a refugee, you are more likely to live in a town or city (61 per cent) than in a rural area or camp.
• RICH & POOR: High income countries on average host 2.7 refugees per 1000 of population; Middle and low-income countries on average host 5.8; Poorest countries host a third of all refugees worldwide.
• WHEREABOUTS: About 80 per cent of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin.
• DURATION: Nearly 4 in every 5 refugees are in displacement situations that have lasted for at least five years. One in 5 have been in displacement situations that have lasted 20 years or more.
• NEW ASYLUM SEEKERS: The greatest number of new asylum applications in 2018 was from Venezuelans (341,800).
• LIKELIHOOD: The proportion of humanity who are refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced is now 1 in 108; Ten years ago it was 1 in 160.