Governance

Nearly 80 mln displaced globally by 2019-end, half of them children: UNHCR

Fewer displaced people have been able to return to their homes in 2019

 
By Kiran Pandey
Last Updated: Thursday 18 June 2020
45.7 million of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced people are internally displaced people. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE
45.7 million of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced people are internally displaced people. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE 45.7 million of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced people are internally displaced people. Photo: Vikas Choudhary / CSE

Nearly 80 million people were displaced by the end of 2019 — that’s nearly 1 per cent of the global population. Half of those displaced were children, according to the the latest report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Of the 79.5 million, 26 million were cross-border refugees, 45.7 million were internally displaced people, 4.2 million were asylum seekers and 3.6 million were Venezuelans displaced abroad.

Persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order were the main reasons behind the forced displacements, according to the report released June 18, 2020 — two days before the annual World Refugee Day.

The number of refugees doubled from about 10 million in 2010 to 20.4 million at the end of 2019. Close to 53 per cent were newly displaced.

An estimated one per cent of humanity — 1 in every 97 people  — were affected by forced displacement in 2019, compared to 1 in every 159 people in 2010 and 1 in every 174 in 2005.

Even more worryingly, fewer displaced people were able to return to their homes, according to the document. In the 1990s, on average 1.5 million refugees were able to return home each year.

That number has fallen to around 385,000 in the past decade (2010-2019), the report said.

Close to 40 per cent of those displaced (or 30-34 million) forcibly between 2010-2019 include children below 18 years of age, the report said. At the end of 2019, around half of these refugees were children.

Eight out of 10 people displaced across borders in 2019-end originated from just 10 countries (83 per cent) and four of these were in Africa. Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Eritrea remained in the top 10 list of source countries for cross-border displacement throughout the decade.

Syria has been the main country of origin for refugees since 2014. At the end of 2019, there were 6.6 million Syrian refugees hosted by 126 countries worldwide.

At the end of 2010-2019, Venezuelans made up the second largest group, with 93,300 recognised refugees and a further 3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad. In addition, there were 794,500 Venezuelan asylum-seekers at the end of 2019.

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