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Russia-Ukraine war refugee outflow fastest since World War II

The world’s total number of people displaced by war, persecution, violence, and human rights abuses rose to 108.4 million in 2022 from 19.1 million the previous year, the UN stated.

HQ Team

June 15, 2023: The world’s total number of people displaced by war, persecution, violence, and human rights abuses rose to 108.4 million in 2022 from 19.1 million the previous year, the UN stated.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the main reason for displacement in 2022, according to the UN Human Rights Council’s flagship annual report. 

The number of refugees resulting from the war soared from 27,300 at the end of 2021, to 5.7 million at the end of 2022 — representing the fastest outflow of refugees anywhere since World War Two.

If one takes into consideration the Sudan displacement crisis, which is seeing thousands flee back each week due to ongoing violence between army and militia, the total figure of the displaced was about 110 million. 

The number of refugees from Afghanistan was sharply higher in 2022, due to revised estimates of Afghans hosted in Iran, many having arrived in previous years.

Upward revisions

There were upward revisions by Colombia and Peru on the numbers of Venezuelans, mostly categorized as “other people in need of international protection,” hosted in those countries.

Of the total displaced population, 35.3 million were refugees, people who crossed an international border to find safety, while 58%, representing 62.5 million people, were internally displaced due to conflict and violence.

“These figures show us that some people are far too quick to rush to conflict and way too slow to find solutions,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

“The consequence is devastation, displacement, and anguish for each of the millions of people forcibly uprooted from their homes,” he said in the report.

The world’s low and middle-income countries and not wealthy states hosted the most displaced people, according to the report. The 46 least-developed nations account for less than 1.3% global gross domestic product, yet they hosted more than 20% of all refugees, according to UNHCR.

Inadequate funding

Funding for displacement and to support hosts, remained inadequate for 2022 and the same applies so far this year, the agency added.

At the end of 2022, an estimated 4.4 million people worldwide were stateless or undetermined nationality, a full two percent more than at the end of 2021.

The Global Trends in Forced Displacement 2022 report comes six months ahead of the second Global Refugee Forum.

The forum is a major gathering in Geneva, bringing together a range of actors to find new solutions for people forced to flee and their hosts, and to emphasize the importance of global solidarity in confronting the problem.

Globally, Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Colombia, Germany, and Pakistan hosted the largest refugee populations at the end of 2022, including people in “refugee-like situations” and other people in need of international protection.

International protection

More than 87% of all refugees and other people in need of international protection originated from just 10 countries.

Millions of refugees from Ukraine received temporary protection, granted by European Union Member States and several other countries. 

At the same time, the highest number of new asylum applications ever recorded – 2.6 million – were registered by more than 140 nationalities during 2022 in 155 countries, according to the report. 

More than two in five of the new asylum applications were made by nationals from Latin America and the Caribbean, notably from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. 

The US remained the largest recipient of asylum applications, receiving 730,400 new claims, nearly four times more than in 2021. 

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