AFP  | Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
AFP | Internally Displaced Persons in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Russia's war in Ukraine has pushed the number of forcibly displaced people around the world above 100 million for the first time in history, the United Nations said on Monday.

The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution has now passed the milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, driven by the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, according to Monday's statement from the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

UNHCR said the numbers of forcibly displaced people had risen towards 90 million by the end of 2021, spurred by violence in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, more than eight million people have been displaced within the country, and more than six million refugees have fled across the borders.

One percent of world population displaced

"One hundred million is a stark figure. It's a record that should never have been set," said UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

Governments must resolve to end destructive conflicts and persecution, and address the underlying causes that force innocent people to flee their homes, Grandi continued.

The figure of 100 million amounts to more than one percent of the global population. Only 13 countries have a bigger population than the number of forcibly displaced people in the world.

The figures combine refugees, asylum-seekers, as well as more than 50 million people displaced inside their own nations.

"The international response to people fleeing war in Ukraine has been overwhelmingly positive," said Grandi.

"We need a similar mobilisation for all crises around the world. But ultimately, humanitarian aid is a palliative, not a cure.

"To reverse this trend, the only answer is peace and stability so that innocent people are not forced to gamble between acute danger at home or precarious flight and exile."

UNHCR will outline the full data on forced displacement in 2021 in its annual Global Trends Report, due for release on 16 June.

Covid restrictions used as cover

More than two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, at least 20 countries still deny access to asylum for people fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution based on measures to clamp down on the virus.

Grandi called for those countries to lift any remaining pandemic-related asylum restrictions, saying they contravene a fundamental human right.

"I am worried that measures enacted on the pretext of responding to Covid-19 are being used as cover to exclude and deny asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution," he said.

Natural disasters continue to account for most internal displacement, spurring 24 million such movements in 2021.

Text initially published on: RFI


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