The United Nations Refugee Agency sounds the alarm about the growing number of refugees in the world.
“Despite the pandemic, the number of people displaced from war, violence, persecution and human rights violations has risen to nearly 82.4 million by 2020,” the UNHCR reports. “This is an increase of 4 percent compared to the record number of 79.5 million at the end of 2019.”
In an annual report by the UN agency, internally displaced persons remain by far the largest group of refugees. This concerns more than 48 million people who are displaced in their own country, 2.3 million more than a year earlier. This growth is partly due to crises in Ethiopia, Sudan, Mozambique, Yemen, Afghanistan and Colombia.
Venezuelans are another large group of refugees. They have left their oil-rich homeland en masse in recent years, where the economy has completely collapsed. In 2020, according to the report, 3.9 million Venezuelans were displaced outside their country, some 300,000 more than a year earlier.
The UN organization also calculated that fewer and fewer refugees could return. “Throughout 2020, some 3.2 million internally displaced persons and just 251,000 refugees returned to their homes – a decrease of 40 and 21 percent respectively compared to 2019.” In addition, 33,800 refugees would have naturalized in the country where they were granted asylum by 2020.
The UNHCR calls on the international community to do more to ensure peace and stability. “To find solutions, world leaders and influential people must put aside their differences, end a one-sided approach to politics and instead focus on both preventing and resolving conflicts and ensuring respect for human rights,” he said—the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a statement.