UNHCR Urges World Leaders To Reverse Trend Of Soaring Displacement
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has called on world leaders to step up their efforts to foster peace, stability and cooperation to halt and begin reversing nearly a decade-long trend of surging displacement driven by violence and persecution
UNITED NATIONS, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Jun, 2021 ) :The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has called on world leaders to step up their efforts to foster peace, stability and cooperation to halt and begin reversing nearly a decade-long trend of surging displacement driven by violence and persecution.
Despite the pandemic, the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people, according to UNHCR's latest annual Global Trends report released in Geneva on Friday.
Another 48 million people were internally displaced (IDPs) within their own countries. A further 4.1 million were asylum-seekers. These numbers indicate that despite the pandemic and calls for a global ceasefire, conflict continued to chase people from their homes.
"Behind each number is a person forced from their home and a story of displacement, dispossession and suffering," said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "They merit our attention and support not just with humanitarian aid, but in finding solutions to their plight.
"While the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees provide the legal framework and tools to respond to displacement, we need much greater political will to address conflicts and persecution that force people to flee in the first place," Grandi added.
Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 per cent of all forcibly displaced people. They are particularly vulnerable, especially when crises continue for years. New UNHCR estimates show that almost one million children were born as refugees between 2018 and 2020. Many of them may remain refugees for years to come.
"The tragedy of so many children being born into exile should be reason enough to make far greater efforts to prevent and end conflict and violence," Grandi said.
The report also notes that at the peak of the pandemic in 2020, over 160 countries had closed their borders, with 99 States making no exception for people seeking protection. Yet with improved measures - such as medical screenings at borders, health certification or temporary quarantine upon arrival, simplified registration procedures and remote interviewing, more and more countries found ways to ensure access to asylum while trying to stem the spread of the pandemic.
The figure includes people displaced for the first time as well as people displaced repeatedly, both within and beyond countries' borders.
When considering only international displacement situations, Syria topped the list with 6.8 million people, followed by Venezuela with 4.9 million. Afghanistan and South Sudan came next, with 2.8 and 2.2 million respectively.
Germany hosted the third-largest population � almost 1.5 million, with Syrian refugees and asylum-seekers as the largest group (44%). Pakistan and Uganda completed the top-five hosting countries, with about 1.4 million each.
The COVID-19 crisis also hit the forcibly displaced hard, who faced increased food and economic insecurity as well as challenges to access health and protection services.
At the peak of the last year, over 160 countries had closed their borders, with 99 states making no exception for people seeking protection.
According to UNHCR, the dynamics of poverty, food insecurity, climate change, conflict and displacement are increasingly interconnected and mutually reinforcing.
Girls and boys under the age of 18 account for 42 percent of all forcibly displaced. They are particularly vulnerable, especially when crises continue for years.
The agency emphasized that over the course of 2020, some 3.2 million internally displaced and just 251,000 refugees returned to their homes �a 40 and 21 percent drop, respectively, compared to 2019. Another 33,800 refugees were naturalized by their countries of asylum.
Refugee resettlement registered a drastic plunge with just 34,400 refugees resettled, the lowest level in 20 years � a consequence of a reduced number of resettlement places and COVID-19.
"Solutions require global leaders and those with influence to put aside their differences, end an egoistic approach to politics, and instead focus on preventing and solving conflict and ensuring respect for human rights," Grandi urged.
The UN Refugee agency reminded that 2020 is the ninth year of uninterrupted rise in forced displacement worldwide. There are twice as many forcibly displaced people than in 2011 when the total was just under 40 million.