On 23 May, the UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, published statistics showing that a record 100 million people are now displaced from their homes – a 20% rise from 2020.
The number of displaced persons has more than doubled in the last ten years. The UN High Commission for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated that the statistics should “serve as a wake-up call” for greater action to promote peace and address forced replacement.
In a press release, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is now advocating a “system reboot” in refugee policy and calls on the EU and international community to “boost refugee resettlement.”
A day for action
20 June marks World Refugee Day, a globally-observed event dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of refugees and the world and of efforts to protect their human rights. In the light of the new statistics, the IRC plans a day of action on behalf of refugees and displaced persons.
“The IRC calls for global action to make this World Refugee Day a running point in the campaign for dignity for the world’s displaced people. New data reveals that 89.3 million people were forced to flee their homes last year – taking the global toll to over 100 million, inclusive of Ukraine,” the statement reads.
The statistics account for conflict and disasters in nations such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Ethiopia. A further 7 million have been internally displaced within Ukraine and 6 million have fled overseas since the conflict began in February.
David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC and former British Foreign Secretary, states that the current situation represents a failure of the global community: “This year’s World Refugee Day is historic because it dramatises the scale of global failure. This highlights the failure of nations, diplomacy, and of the legal regime,” he stated.
The former British politician states that failure to act will see the number of people displaced continue to rise. According to IRC statistics, some 274 million people across the world are now in need of humanitarian assistance – up 63% in just two years.
“100 million people displaced, including 14 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homes, is historic but will be the prelude to higher and higher numbers without urgent action,” he noted.
Total system upgrade
Miliband and the IRC are calling for a “total system upgrade” of the global approach to displaced persons. If nothing is done, the war in Ukraine threatens furthering suffering in other regions across the world. The blockade of cheap Black Sea grain in Ukrainian ports, as well as the theft of Ukrainian grain by Russian occupation forces, risks triggering famine across vulnerable areas of Africa.
Belgium struggles to provide housing to many asylum seekers who arrive in the country. In April alone, over 2,000 asylum applications were received by the Immigration Office. Brussels frequently runs out of space to host asylum seekers and ministers have even suggested tent camps to deal with the influx of refugees.