The number of people worldwide living in forced displacement from their homes is estimated to have exceeded 114 million, the United Nations said Wednesday — a record figure.
“The number of people displaced by war, persecution, violence and human rights violations globally is likely to have exceeded 114 million at the end of September,” UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said in a statement.
The main drivers in the first half of 2023 were the conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo; a prolonged humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan; and a combination of drought, floods and insecurity in Somalia, UNHCR said.
“The world’s focus now is — rightly — on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. But globally, far too many conflicts are proliferating or escalating, shattering innocent lives and uprooting people,” said UN refugees chief Filippo Grandi.
“The international community’s inability to solve conflicts or prevent new ones is driving displacement and misery. We must look within, work together to end conflicts and allow refugees and other displaced people to return home or restart their lives,” he said in a statement.
In its Mid-Year Trends Report, which analyses forced displacement during the first six months of 2023, UNHCR said that by the end of June, 110 million people had been forcibly displaced worldwide.
That figure was up 1.6 million from the end of 2022.
A UNHCR spokesman confirmed to AFP the new figure was a record since the agency began collecting data in 1975.
Since Israel launched withering strikes on Gaza in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas militants on October 7, the number of people internally displaced within Gaza is estimated at about 1.4 million, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
More than half of all people who are forced to flee never cross an international border, UNHCR said.
Its mid-year report said that globally, almost one-third of all forcibly displaced people originated from just three countries: Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.
“As we watch events unfold in Gaza, Sudan and beyond, the prospect of peace and solutions for refugees and other displaced populations might feel distant,” said Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“But we cannot give up. With our partners we will keep pushing for — and finding — solutions for refugees.”