The total number of people displaced from their homes on earth is estimated to have exceeded 114 million, a record figure, the United Nations said Wednesday.
During the initial half of 2023, the primary factors contributing to displacement included ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Furthermore, Afghanistan faced an enduring humanitarian crisis, and Somalia struggled with a complex mix of drought, flooding, and security issues. This information was conveyed by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in an official statement.
“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,” the agency noted.
“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.
He attributed the escalating displacement to the international community’s failure to resolve or prevent conflicts and called for enhanced collaboration to quell violence and facilitate the safe return of displaced individuals.
According to the UNHCR’s Mid-Year Trends Report, the global count of displaced people surged from 108.4 million at the close of the previous year to 110 million by June 2023.
A UNHCR spokesperson asserted that the 114 million figure at the end of September was a record since the agency began collecting data in 1975. The newly reported figure predates the onset of the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
On October 7, Hamas gunmen poured into Israel, kicking off an attack that killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, while also kidnapping more than 220 others, according to Israeli officials.
At the same time, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says retaliatory Israeli strikes have killed more than 6,500 people.
Approximately 1.4 million individuals are internally displaced within Gaza, as indicated by the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. The UNHCR also highlights that more than one in 73 people globally face forced displacement.
As of mid-2023, there were 35.8 million refugees who had sought refuge in foreign countries, and 57 million individuals internally displaced within their own nations (IDPs). In addition, there are millions more classified as asylum seekers or individuals in need of international protection.
About a third of all displaced people originated from just three nations: Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine.
Low- and middle-income nations provided shelter to 75 percent of refugees and individuals requiring international protection. The top host countries for refugees include Iran and Turkey, each accommodating 3.4 million; Germany and Colombia, both with 2.5 million; and Pakistan, hosting 2.1 million.
By mid-2023, almost half of Syria’s population, approximately 6.7 million individuals, were still displaced, with an even split between those internally displaced within the country and refugees and asylum-seekers. A significant portion of these refugees found refuge in Turkey.
On a global scale, the first half of 2023 witnessed a record-breaking 1.6 million new individual asylum applications, marking the highest number ever recorded in the initial six months of any given year. Notably, 540,600 claims were filed in the United States, 150,200 in Germany, and 87,100 in Spain.
“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.
“But we cannot give up. With our partners we will keep pushing for — and finding — solutions for refugees.”
During the period from January to June, approximately 3.1 million individuals managed to return to their homes. This figure includes 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).