War in Ukraine pushes global displaced to highest number ever, UN says

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed global displacement figures to record highs, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday, calling the statistics a “Tragic stage”.

Over the past decade, levels of displacement have increased every year, the United Nations noted in its Global Trends Report – with numbers currently at the highest level since records began. By the end of 2021, 89.3 million people were displaced, the agency said, citing war, disasters, violence, persecution and human rights abuses as some of the contributing factors.

To date, more than 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes, more than 1% of humanity.

The invasion of Ukraine triggered the fastest forced displacement crisis since World War II – which, in conjunction with other emergencies in Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere, “pushed the figure above above a dramatic milestone,” the agency said. More than 5 million Ukrainian refugees have been registered across Europe since the Russian invasion.

Children have made up nearly half of the world’s total refugee population over the past decade, UNICEF said in a separate report on Thursday. A record 36.5 million children were displaced by the end of 2021 amid cascading crises, including in Afghanistan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The upward trends in global displacement will continue unless the international community makes a “further concerted push towards restoring peace”, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

Last year several conflicts began around the world and existing ones escalated – with around two dozen nations, home to a total of 850 million people, experiencing medium to high intensity conflicts, according to the World Bank. . “Fragility, conflict-related deaths and social unrest have increased dramatically,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in March.

In addition to conflict, food scarcity, inflation and the climate crisis have exacerbated hardship and stretched the humanitarian response, the United Nations noted.

Thousands of Afghan families remain separated after disorderly US exit

Two-thirds of the refugees and displaced people came from just five countries: Syria, with 6.8 million, followed by Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.

Low- and middle-income countries hosted more than 80% of all refugees and displaced Venezuelans abroad, the UN refugee agency said. Turkey hosted the largest refugee population in the world – at 3.8 million – followed by Uganda, Pakistan and Germany. On a per capita basis, Lebanon – with 1 in 8 per capita – followed by Jordan and Turkey, hosted the highest number of refugees.

After leaving dangerous situations at home, many refugees still face precarious and vulnerable conditions.

The World Food Program warned last month that Syrian families living in refugee camps in Iraq faced “alarming levels” of food insecurity. The country hosts around 260,000 Syrian refugees, including more than 95,000 in camps.

There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees in the world, including 2.2 million in the neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan alone. As part of the chaotic US withdrawal from the country last year, the Biden administration evacuated 76,000 Afghans to the United States, leaving behind thousands more who wanted to escape as the Taliban took over. the power.

The US Afghan resettlement program has been overwhelmed, leaving some refugees struggling, separated from family members and in limbo trying to find a long-term path.

Many, including a coalition of Democratic senators late last month, have criticized what they see as the government’s asymmetrical treatment of refugees from different nations.

“While the United States‘ response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been admirable, it is unfortunate that this welcoming and accommodating model is not the norm for all humanitarian crises, wherever they occur, whether in Haiti, throughout Central America, Africa, the Pacific, and beyond,” wrote the senators.

The conflict in Ukraine has also contributed to soaring food and fuel prices around the world. From Nigeria to Yemen, the crisis is hitting developing countries particularly hard, exacerbating hunger and food shortages.

“The ripple effects of the war in Ukraine have reverberated globally against the backdrop of a gradual and uneven economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted a UN hotspot analysis. hunger in the world.

With key ports in Ukraine blocked, US and European officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon in the conflict. “Disruptions to Ukraine’s agricultural sector and limited exports are reducing global food supplies, further increasing global food prices and ultimately driving up already high levels of domestic food price inflation,” the United Nations said.

Ukraine and Russia produce about a third of the wheat traded on world markets and about a quarter of the world’s barley, according to the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.

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