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Global displacement hits record high

By CHEN YINGQUN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-17 09:18
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Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo receive lunch at a transit center in Kisoro, Uganda, on June 7. BADRU KATUMBA/AFP

The number of people forced to flee their homes has surpassed 100 million after a continuous increase over the past decade, the United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday.

People displaced by war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses stood at 89.3 million by the end of 2021, up 8 percent a year earlier and well over double the figure of 10 years ago, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' annual Global Trends report.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has caused the fastest and one of the largest forced displacement crises since World War II, and other emergencies from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond have pushed the figure over the dramatic milestone of 100 million, the report said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the numbers have climbed every year in the past decade.

"Either the international community comes together to take action to address this human tragedy, resolve conflicts and find lasting solutions, or this terrible trend will continue," Grandi said.

Last year was notable for the number of conflicts that escalated and new ones that flared, with 23 countries with a combined population of 850 million facing medium-or high-intensity conflicts, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, food scarcity, inflation and the climate crisis are adding to people's hardships, stretching the humanitarian response just as the funding outlook in many situations appears bleak. The number of refugees rose to 27.1 million last year. Arrivals climbed in Uganda, Chad and Sudan, among others. Most refugees were, once again, hosted by neighboring countries with few resources. The number of asylum-seekers reached 4.6 million, up 11 percent, the report said.

The speed and volume of displacements still outpace the availability of solutions for those displaced, such as return, resettlement or local integration. Yet the Global Trends report also spelled out glimmers of hope. The number of refugees and internally displaced person returns increased last year, returning to pre-COVID-19 levels, with voluntary repatriation having surged to 71 percent, though numbers remained modest.

"While we're witnessing appalling new refugee situations, and existing ones reigniting or remaining unresolved, there are also examples of countries and communities working together to pursue solutions for the displaced," Grandi said. "But these important decisions need to be replicated or scaled up elsewhere."

Li Yonghui, a researcher of Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the global community needs to make joint efforts to promote peace and help these displaced people rebuild their lives.

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