World Refugee Day: “Together we heal, learn, and shine”; 82.4 million people have moved in 2020

UN Refugee Agency has set the theme for World Refugee Day 2021 as “Together we heal, learn, and shine”.

As the world continues to fight the impact of Coronavirus since 2020, the climate change and other global crisis, a large number of human population has been fleeing violence, persecution, human rights violation and wars.

Almost one per cent of humanity is displaced and more than twice the number have been forcibly displaced, today. This is more than in 2011 when the total was just under 40 million, and 2020 is the ninth year which has witnessed an uninterrupted rise in forced displacement globally. There has been a four per cent increase in the number of population which is fleeing compared to the already record high at the end of 2019.

According to UNHCR’s latest annual Global Trends report which was released on Friday (June 18, 2021) in Geneva, in 2020 nearly 82.4 million people have moved compared to 79.5 million in 2019.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency has set the theme for World Refugee Day 2021 as “Together we heal, learn, and shine”.

People who moved in 2020

By the end of 2020 20.7 million refugees were under UNHCR mandate – this includes 3.9 million Venezuelans displaced abroad and 5.7 million Palestine refugees.

According to the UNHCR Report, around 48 million people were internally displaced. This means they were displaced within their own country. And another 4.1 million were asylum seekers.

Despite the global pandemic, and calls for ceasefire in many places, conflict impacted the lives of the people as they were forced to flee.

The report has urged the world leaders to further strengthen their efforts to ensure peace and stability and cooperation and to help in reversing almost a decade -long trend of growing displacement which is mostly driven by violence and persecution.

The impact of displacement

The report states that girls and boys under the age of 18 account for the 42 per cent of the forcibly displaced population. This makes them vulnerable, especially in situations where the crisis continues for years.

UNHCR estimates between 2018-2020 almost one million children were born as refugees, and many of them may remain as refugees for years to come. With so many children being born in exile, should be reason enough for world leaders to make efforts to not only prevent but to end violence.

What did UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi say?

“There is a need for much greater political will to address conflicts and persecution that force people to flee in the first place.”

The 1951 Refugee Convention and the Global Compact on Refugees provide the legal framework and tools which will help in responding to displacement.

In 2020, when the global pandemic was at its peak, according to UNHCR 160 countries had closed their borders to stop the spread of the virus. 99 states made no exception for those people who were seeking protection and were fleeing conflict zones.

However there were some countries found ways to ensure that the asylum seekers were able to get in following several improved measures including simplified registration procedures and remote interviewing, medical screenings at borders, health certification and temporary quarantine upon arrival.

Besides those who were fleeing through their borders, several millions were displaced within their own countries. People in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Sahel moved due to the crises. In countries like Mozambique, Yemen, Afghanistan and Colombia the number of internally displaced people rose by more than 2.3 million.

Compared to 2019, in 2020, around 3.2 million IDPs and just 251,000 refugees returned to their homes – witnessing a 40 and 21 per cent drop, respectively. And, 33,800 refugees were naturalized by their countries of asylum.

Refugee resettlement registered a dramatic drop which just 34,400 refugees getting resettled in 2020, the lowest in two decades. Why? This was due to the global pandemic and reduced number of resettlement places.

Where have the refugees come from?

According to UNHCR more than two thirds of all people who fled were from just five countries including: South Sudan (2.2 million), Syria (6.7 million), Venezuela (4.0 million), Afghanistan (2.6 million), and Myanmar (1.1 million).

The Least Developed Countries provided asylum to 27 per cent of the total of world’s refugees.

Which country is hosting most number number of refugees?

Turkey is hosting the largest refugee population (3.7 million refugees), seventh year in a row. This is followed by South American nation Colombia (1.7 million, this includes the number of Venezuelans displaced abroad), Pakistan is providing refuge to (1.4 million from Afghanistan), Uganda (1.4 million) and Germany (1.2 million from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan).

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