130 million people displaced, with 32 million refugees seeking safety beyond borders: UNHCR

Afghanistan & Syria leads with 6.4 million refugees

Society

June 20, 2024

/ By / New Delhi

130 million people displaced, with 32 million refugees seeking safety beyond borders: UNHCR

130 million people are displaced due to conflict, violence and human rights violations

Global displacement has reached unprecedented levels, with 130 million people displaced due to conflict, violence and human rights violations, says a report by UNHCR, as the world marks the International Day of the Refugees.

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A report by United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reveals that global displacement has reached unprecedented levels, with 130 million people displaced due to conflict, violence and human rights violations. The report underscores the severe impact of these factors, highlighting a significant humanitarian crisis affecting millions worldwide.

The report titled Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2025 highlights the exacerbating factors behind this surge. Prolonged mass displacement, the onset of new conflicts, and the escalating impacts of climate change have collectively contributed to this critical situation.

According to the report, among 130 million people, 32 million individuals are categorised as refugees, forced to seek safety beyond their national borders due to ongoing conflicts and persecution.

UNHCR says that over 2.9 million refugees globally are projected to require resettlement in 2025.The staggering numbers reflect a profound humanitarian crisis affecting diverse regions and populations, with millions enduring unimaginable hardships and uncertainty.

The UNHCR report highlights that in 2024, 39 pc of all refugees are housed by just five nations, demonstrating the significant burden shouldered by these countries. Iran leads with 3.8 million refugees, followed by Turkiye hosting 3.3 million. Colombia provides shelter to 2.9 million people, while Germany accommodates 2.6 million refugees. Pakistan supports 2 million displaced individuals.

It adds that just five countries account for 73 pc of the total global refugee population, highlighting the disproportionate impact of displacement on certain regions. Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic each have generated 6.4 million refugees, while Venezuela follows closely with 6.1 million. Ukraine has 6 million displaced individuals and South Sudan has 2.3 million.

Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, disclosed that in the past year, 114 million individuals were displaced due to war, violence and persecution. This alarming statistic stresses the severe impact of global conflicts and human rights abuses, driving millions from their homes in search of safety and stability.

“Next month, we will update this figure. It will be higher, and humanitarians are nearing a breaking point. Respect for the basic rules of war is almost non-existent. Among the many haunting images from the conflict in Gaza is that of desperate people trapped and often killed inside a war zone. Their safety should be our, your paramount concern. Under international law, an occupying power must not force a civilian population to flee the territory it occupies,” says Grandi.

The report emphasised global flashpoints where conflict and violence have uprooted countless individuals from their homes. Notably, the outbreak of conflict in Sudan since April 2023 has emerged as one of the most severe humanitarian and displacement crises globally.

By December 2023, over 6 million people were compelled to flee their homes amidst escalating violence and instability in the region.

UNHCR estimates that forced displacement continued to increase in the first four months of 2024 and that the number of those displaced is likely to have exceeded.

Finding safety in India

Throughout history, India has been a sanctuary for people of diverse faiths fleeing persecution. From Paris seeking refuge centuries ago to Tibetans escaping in 1959 and refugees from the then East Pakistan and today’s Bangladesh during the 1971 conflict, India has welcomed displaced communities warmly. Afghan refugees, enduring displacement across three wars and Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing conflict have also found shelter within its borders. More recently, people from Myanmar and various African nations have sought safety and protection in India.

According to the report nearly 79,000 refugees from Myanmar, including Rohingya, live in India, with about 22,000 registered with the UN refugee agency. Most Rohingya in India have been given UNHCR cards that recognise them as a persecuted community.

Notably, during the Holocaust, India provided refuge to an estimated 5,000 persecuted Jews from Europe, offering them a new home when many were turned away by the United States.

India’s tradition of hospitality towards refugees is rooted in its ethos and the country has historically welcomed refugees with open arms, providing sanctuary to those fleeing persecution and conflict.

Refugees claim discrimination in India

However, many refugees find their already difficult lives becoming even more challenging as they face persistent neglect and discrimination. Despite India’s tradition of hospitality, refugees often encounter significant barriers to basic services and dignity.

“As  a refugee residing in India, we encounter numerous challenges on a daily basis, ranging from basic necessities like access to clean water to the indignity of being demonised in the media and referred to as ‘infiltrators’. These issues not only undermine our sense of dignity but also exacerbate our already precarious living conditions,” Suraya Begum, a Rohingya refugee living in Jammu tells Media India Group.

“The lack of adequate recognition and respect for our plight further compounds our struggles, making it harder to integrate into society and rebuild our lives. Beyond these hardships, there is a pervasive sense of being marginalised and misunderstood, which adds to the emotional burden we carry as displaced individuals. It is crucial for our voices to be heard and our experiences acknowledged, not just as statistics or burdens on the system, but also as human beings deserving of empathy and support,” she adds.

“We don’t have basic sanitation facilities, and I have given birth to three children in India without access to any health schemes in government hospitals, simply because I wasn’t born here. The lack of adequate healthcare and sanitation deeply affects our lives and wellbeing. It is disheartening to face such discrimination and neglect, especially when all we seek is a chance to live with dignity and provide a better future for our children,” Begum adds.

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