A record 89.3 million people had been driven from their homes by war, violence, persecution, and human rights abuse by the end of 2021, up 8% from the previous year, according to the U.N. refugee agency’s annual Global Trends report.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says the figures are made even worse when the number of people forced to flee by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is included.
“Ukraine has displaced anyway between 12 and 14 million people, depending on how you count them. So, the figure has exceeded 100 million. This is due to a rise in conflict and crisis,” he said.
Emergencies have caused the numbers to climb every year over the past decade. The UNHCR says Russia’s Ukraine invasion has spurred the fastest, and one of the largest, forced displacement crises since World War II.
While the world is focused on Ukraine, Grandi urges governments to pay attention to the many emergencies that have preceded Ukraine and continue to shatter the lives of millions of people.
“We have Ethiopia at the end of 2020 and through 21. We had the Afghanistan situation in the summer of last year: Syria, for example, South Sudan. The question of Palestine refugees. These have been very longstanding crises that add to the numbers,” he said.
The UNHCR says refugee numbers rose to more than 27 million last year, while those displaced by conflict within their own countries increased to 53.2 million.
Dispelling common perceptions, the UNHCR says more than 80% of refugees fled to poor and middle-income countries.
The report finds five countries — Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar— account for more than two-thirds of the globally displaced. It says Turkey took in the most refugees, followed by Colombia, Uganda, Pakistan, and Germany. The United States is still the top refugee resettlement country in the world.