At present, 1% of the world’s population is living in other countries after having been uprooted from their homeland as a result of conflict and persecution. Most of these displaced people have taken refuge in neighouring countries and a sizable number are far from their ancestral lands where they reached after risking their lives. Even in the presence of the coronavirus pandemic, the exodus of people from their own countries continued in the previous year, with displacement increasing to more than 82 million, twice the figure 10 years before, the UN says in its latest report. This number went past last year’s highest-ever figure by nearly three million.
The report focuses on the large numbers of people forced to flee because of long drawn-out conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. The eruption of violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and Mozambique has further fuelled the surge in global displacement. The report laments that economies and many things, though, had slowed down because of the Covid-19 pandemic; war, conflicts and discriminations continued to rise, and pushed people to seek refuge in other countries.
Five states —Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Venezuela — account for more than two-thirds of the world refugee population. From the Tigray region 54,000 people fled to South Sudan in the last few months of 2020. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to safety from jihadist violence in Mozambique. Several thousands of people have been forced to flee the long-disturbed Sahel region of Africa after the fresh eruption of violence there. Turkey hosts most of the displaced persons from neighboring countries numbering 3.7 million, followed by Pakistan and Uganda with 1.4 million each, and Germany with 1.2 million.
During 2020, about 3.2 million IDPs and 251,000 refugees went back to their homes. The growing refugee problem can be tackled by encouraging social justice and cohesion in conflict-ridden countries, possibly with cooperation from the world community.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2021.