Dubai: Every second refugee in 2018 was a child and around 111,000 of them were alone without their families while Uganda reported 2,800 refugee children aged five or below alone.
The alarming statistics were released today (Wednesday) by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ahead of the World Refugees Day which is marked on June 20.
According to the report obtained by Gulf News, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has seen in its almost 70 years.
The date from the report shows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.
More than two thirds (67 per cent) of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.1 million), Somalia (0.9 Million).
The figure of 70.8 million is conservative, in particular as the crisis in Venezuela is still only partly reflected in this number. In all, some 4 million Venezuelans, according to data from governments receiving them, have left their country, making this among the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
Although the majority need international refugee protection, as of today only around half a million have taken the step of formally applying for asylum.
The Annual UNHCR Global Trends Report details the latest statistics on forced displacement across the world. The report racks forced displacement (refugees and internally displaced people) based on data gathered by UNHCR.
“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution. While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grand.
Grand added: “We are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actors including development actors, private businesses, and individuals, which not only reflects but also delivers the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees.
“We must build on these positive examples and redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day,” he said.
Three main groups of refugees
Within the 70.8 million figure in the Global Trends report are three main groups. The first is refugees, meaning people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees who are under the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The second group is asylum seekers - people outside their country of origin and receiving international protection, but awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status. At the end of 2018 there were 3.5 million asylum seekers globally.
The third and biggest group, at 41.3 million, is people displaced to other areas within their own country, a category commonly referred to as Internally Displaced People or IDPs.
Overall growth in displacement continued to exceed the rate at which solutions are being found for people who become displaced. With refugees, the best solution is being able to return home voluntarily, in safety and dignity. Other solutions include being integrated into the host community or being resettled to a third country. However, only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, less than 7 per cent of those awaiting resettlement. Some 593,800 refugees were able to return home, while 62,600 became naturalized.
“With every refugee situation, wherever it is, however long it has been going on for, there has to be an enduring emphasis on solutions and removing obstacles to people being able to return home,” said Grandi. “This is complex work in which UNHCR is constantly engaged but which also requires all countries to come together for a common good. It is one of the great challenges of our times.”
Global Trends 2018 – 8 refugee facts you need to know
Children: In 2018, every second refugee was a child, many (111,000) alone and without their families.
Toddlers: Uganda reported 2,800 refugee children aged five or below alone or separated from their families.
Urban Phenomenon: As a refugee, you are more likely to live in a town or city (61%) than in a rural area or camp.
Rich and Poor: High income countries on average host 2.7 refugees per 1000 of population; Middle and low-income countries on average host 5.8; Poorest countries host a third of all refugees worldwide.
Whereabouts: About 80% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin.
Duration: Nearly 4 in every 5 refugees are in displacement situations that have lasted for at least five years. One in 5 have been in displacement situations that have lasted 20 years or more.
New Asylum Seekers: The greatest number of new asylum applications in 2018 was from Venezuelans (341,800).
Likelihood: The proportion of humanity who are refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced is now 1-in-108; Ten years ago it was 1-in-160.
Alarming data about refugees across the world
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018- highest level that UNHCR, has seen in its almost 70 years.
In 2018, an estimated 13.6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution. This included 10.8 million individuals displaced within the borders of their own country and 2.8 million new refugees and new asylum-seekers.
By the end of 2018, the number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate reached 20.4 million- nearly double what it was in 2012 (10.5 million).
At the end of 2018, an estimated 41.3 million people were internally displaced.
An estimated 13.6 million people were newly displaced due to conflict or persecution in 2018- average of 37,000 people forced to flee their homes every day in 2018- at 1,560,800, Ethiopians made up the largest newly displaced population during the year, 98 per cent of them within their country.
Some 4 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015 making this among the world’s biggest recent displacement crises
Children below 18 years of age constituted about half of the refugee population in 2018,
Countries in developed regions hosted 16 per cent of refugees, while one third of the global refugee population (6.7 million people) were in the Least Developed Countries.
For the fourth consecutive year, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 3.7 million people.
More than two thirds (67 per cent) of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.1 million), Somalia (0.9 Million)
State of refugees in MENA region
Over the past decade, the global population of forcibly displaced people (refugees and internally displaced) grew substantially reaching a record high. Most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015, driven mainly by the Syrian conflict
Since 2014, the main country of origin for refugees in 2018 was Syria.
Lebanon continued to host the largest number of refugees relative to its national population, where 1 in 6 people was a refugee. Jordan (1 in 14) and Turkey (1 in 22) ranked second and third, respectively.
At the end of 2018, Syrians continued to be the largest forcibly displaced population, with 13.0 million people living in displacement, including 6,654,000 refugees, 6,184,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) and 140,000 asylum- seekers.
By the end of 2018, 2,144,700 Yemenis were internally displaced.