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Record 110 million people displaced worldwide: UN refugee agency

The wars in Ukraine and Sudan and the crisis in Afghanistan have forced millions to flee in search of safety.

The number of people displaced worldwide by the wars in Ukraine and Sudan has reached a record 110 million, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Some 19 million people were forced to flee last year – the biggest annual jump on record – raising the total to 108.4 million by the end of last year, UNHCR said in its annual Forced Displacement report on Wednesday.

The number has since risen to at least 110 million due to Sudan’s eight-week-old conflict, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters.

“This is an indictment on the state of our world that needs to be reported,” he told a Geneva news conference.

The overall figures include people seeking safety within their own countries as well as those who crossed borders. Refugees and asylum seekers make up about 37.5 percent of the total, the report said.

“It’s increasingly difficult to even imagine solutions to these movements and even put them on the table,” he said. “We live in a very polarized world, where international tensions run all the way to humanitarian issues.”

Before the Syrian conflict in 2011, there were about 40 million refugees and internally displaced people, a number that had remained stable for nearly 20 years, according to the organization. But since then the number has been increasing every year.

Grundy blames “the usual package of factors” for displacing more people – conflict, oppression, discrimination, violence and climate change.

Of the total number of refugees and those in need of international protection, almost half come from just three countries: Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan, the report said.

At the end of 2022, 11.6 million Ukrainians were displaced, it said, 5.9 million within their country and 5.7 million abroad.

Grundy raised concerns that countries are introducing stricter rules on admitting refugees and handling push-backs, without specifying the countries concerned.

Countries in the EU’s east, such as Poland and Hungary, have refused to take in anyone from the predominantly Muslim Middle East and North Africa, while right-wing and populist parties across the bloc have fueled the anti-immigration debate. Rhetoric

Outside the European Union, the UK is pushing through new laws that would prevent anyone arriving on a small boat from across the English Channel from claiming asylum, echoing Australia’s controversial offshore migration policy.

The bill has passed the lower house but has not yet received the support of the upper house.

“We see a growing reluctance on the part of states to fully comply with the principles of the (1951 Refugee) Convention, even those that have signed it,” Grandi told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a briefing.

However, he was upbeat about some developments, such as an agreement between EU ministers last week on sharing responsibility for migrants and refugees.

“There are some concerns. However, I think this is a positive step,” he said. “We are very happy that the Europeans have agreed on something.”

He also praised Kenya, which he said was seeking new solutions for half a million refugees, including many who fled poverty and drought in the Horn of Africa.

The report said that 339,300 refugees were able to return home last year, while 114,300 were resettled in third countries – double the number for 2021.

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