The UNHCR said the EU should be concerned about refugees fleeing from the Sahel region | Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP
The UNHCR said the EU should be concerned about refugees fleeing from the Sahel region | Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP

The UN Refugee Agency said this was the highest number of displaced people recorded since World War II. Refugees coming to the EU from Africa's Sahel region could rise, said the report.

The United Nations' refugee agency said Thursday that 100 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes in the past year. This is the highest number of displaced people recorded since World War II.

Ukraine had the largest and fastest-growing refugee crisis since the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1951, the body said in its Global Trends Report.

Along with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the crisis in Afghanistan was also one of the major events that contributed to the "dramatic milestone" of 100 million. The report said there had been an upward trend every year in the last decade.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said this trend would continue, until the international community took steps to resolve conflicts and find solutions.

Food crisis to create more refugees

The Ukraine war has created a food security crisis, which is set to force more people to flee their homes in poorer countries, said the UNHCR.

"If you have a food crisis on top of everything I have described – war, human rights, climate – it will just accelerate the trends I've described in this report," Filippo Grandi told journalists earlier this week, describing the figures as "staggering."

He also said resources were being concentrated in Ukraine, whereas other programs around the world remained underfunded. "Ukraine should not make us forget other crises," he said, mentioning the conflict in Ethiopia and the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Grandi said the European Union's response to refugee crises has been "unequal." This is against the backdrop of the generosity with which Ukrainian refugees had been received, something Grandi would like to be afforded to all who seek refuge.

"Certainly it proves an important point: responding to refugee influxes, to the arrival of desperate people on the shores or borders of rich countries is not unmanageable," he said.

Refugees from Sahel region

Grandi said more and more people were fleeing Africa's Sahel region to escape fuel hikes, climate crises, and violence. These displaced people could head north to Europe to escape the crisis.

He said the region has already faced years of droughts and floods, income inequality, poor healthcare and bad governance. The growing food security crisis has added to the troubles.

"I'm very worried about Sahel. And I don't think that we talk enough about this region that is, by the way, so close to Europe. And I think Europe should be much more worried," he said.

The report said crises in Ukraine, Venezuela, Myanmar, Syria and beyond have exacerbated the situation.

tg/jsi (dpa, AP, Reuters)

First published: June 16, 2022

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