UN refugee agency: Number of people fleeing violence hits new peak

New conflicts in Sudan and Gaza contributed to the rise, which the UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi called a “terrible indictment on the state of the world”

A record-breaking 120 million people have been forced to flee their homes by war, violence and persecution – the 12th year in a row the number has increased, the UN refugee agency said.

The global displaced population is now equivalent to that of Japan, the agency said.

New conflicts in Sudan and Gaza contributed to the rise, which the UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi called a “terrible indictment on the state of the world”.

He called on governments to tackle the root causes of the problem, rather than politicising refugees and turning to quick fixes such as closing borders, which he told the BBC would not solve the problem.

Instead, he urged countries to work together for more durable solutions.

New and old crises drove up the number of refugees globally as of April 2024, according to the agency’s annual report on the subject.

In Sudan, war that started between rival generals in April 2023 pushed more than nine million people from their homes.

In Gaza, the war between Israel and Hamas has displaced an estimated 75% of the population – 1.7 million people – since October.

The world’s largest displacement crisis remains in Syria, where a conflict that started in 2011 keeps nearly 14 million people from their homes.

Millions more people were driven from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar because of fighting last year.

The UN refugee agency said it was untrue that all refugees and other migrants went to wealthy countries, pointing out that the vast majority of refugees were in neighbouring and low and middle-income countries.

The number of displaced people globally has nearly tripled since 2012 and is likely to increase, Grandi said.

“Unless there is a shift in international geopolitics, unfortunately, I actually see the figure continuing to go up,” he added.

The agency condemned warring parties, saying conflicts that violated international law drove displacement.

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