UNHCR’s stark snapshot of global displacement

The rich world bears a relatively small share of the refugee burden

South Sudanese refugees look on at Al-Nimir refugee camp in Sudan’s east Darfur earlier this month. About 400,000 South Sudanese have arrived into Sudan since the war erupted in the world’s youngest country, according to UNHCR. Photograph: Ashraf Shazlyashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

South Sudanese refugees look on at Al-Nimir refugee camp in Sudan’s east Darfur earlier this month. About 400,000 South Sudanese have arrived into Sudan since the war erupted in the world’s youngest country, according to UNHCR. Photograph: Ashraf Shazlyashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

 

In the time it takes to read this sentence, someone in the world will have become displaced. That’s just one of the stark facts contained in an important report published this week by UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, which records the extent to which war, violence and persecution are causing more people than ever to be forced from their homes. Of the 65.6 million people forcibly displaced globally, 10.3 million became displaced last year.

The report, Global Trends, underlines the human toll of the war in Syria, where 12 million people – almost two-thirds of the population – are either internally displaced or have fled abroad. But it also highlights the devastating impact of other under-reported conflicts. The most significant new emergency driving the displacement figure was South Sudan, where the breakdown of efforts to secure peace in July 2016 contributed to the flow of more than 700,000 people by the end of the year. Today that figure stands at 1.87 million.

While Western states fret endlessly about their ability to admit and integrate refugees and asylum seekers, the reality is that the rich world bears a relatively small share of the burden. By the end of last year, most refugees (84 per cent) were in low- or middle-income countries. For the third successive year, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide (2.9 million), most of them Syrians. It was followed by Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Uganda and Ethiopia.

That imbalance is partly due to geography – many poorer countries are near regions of conflict – but it also reflects a collective failure to open doors to those who flee some of the world’s most brutal and oppressive conditions. Hosting large refugee populations can put huge pressure on the poorest states, which already struggle to meet the needs of their national populations. So while the West must do more on resettlement and relocation, and put in place fair, transparent asylum processes, it must also ensure the least-equipped host countries are adequately resourced and assisted. Failure to do that risks further instability and perpetuates the cycle of displacement.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.