UN: In 2017 68.5 million refugees and displaced in the world

Source: AFP/DELIL SOULEIMAN

Wars, other violence and persecution drove worldwide forced displacement to a new high in 2017 for the fifth year in a row, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said in its annual Global Trends Report released on Tuesday.

The world had almost as many forcibly displaced people in 2017 as the population of Thailand.

Across all countries, one in every 110 persons is someone displaced, the UNHCR has reported.

The report said that the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s war, and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees contributed to the number the most, adding that the developing countries were overwhelmingly affected.

UNHCR said that “68.5 million people were displaced as of the end of 2017. Among them were 16.2 million people who became displaced during 2017 itself, either for the first time or repeatedly – indicating a huge number of people on the move and equivalent to 44,500 people being displaced each day, or a person becoming displaced every two seconds.”

Refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the 68.5 million, the UNHCR news release said.

”This is 2.9 million more than in 2016 and the biggest increase UNHCR has seen in a single year. Asylum-seekers, who were still awaiting the outcome of their claims to refugee status as of December 31, 2017, meanwhile rose by around 300,000 to 3.1 million. People displaced inside their own country accounted for 40 million of the total, slightly fewer than the 40.3 million in 2016.”

However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that “there is a reason for some hope. Fourteen countries are already pioneering a new blueprint for responding to refugee situations, and in a matter of months a new Global Compact on Refugees will be ready for adoption by the UN General Assembly.”

“But, today, on the eve of World Refugee Day, my message to member states is – please support this. No one becomes a refugee by choice, but the rest of us can have a choice about how we help.”