In its annual Global Trends report, released today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency said 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.
Wars, other violence and persecution drove worldwide forced displacement to a new high in 2017 for the fifth year in a row, led by the crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan’s war, and the flight into Bangladesh from Myanmar of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas.
Overwhelmingly it is developing countries that are most affected, UNHCR in its report said.
Refugees who have fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the 68.5 million. This is 2.9 million more than in 2016, also 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.
In short, 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.
“We are at a watershed, where success in managing forced displacement globally requires a new and far more comprehensive approach so that countries and communities aren’t left dealing with this alone,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“But there is 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 United Nations General Assembly. 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,” he added.
UNHCR’s Global Trends report is released worldwide each year ahead of June 20, World Refugee Day and tracks forced displacement based on data gathered by UNHCR, governments, and other partners.