War, violence and persecution worldwide are causing more people than ever to be forcibly displaced, according to a report published today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
UNHCR’s new Global Trends report, the organization’s major annual survey of the state of displacement, says that at the end of 2016 there were 65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide – some 300,000 more than a year earlier. This total represents an enormous number of people needing protection worldwide.
The figure of 65.6 million comprises three important components. First is refugee numbers, which at 22.5 million are the highest ever seen. Of these, 17.2 million come under the responsibility of UNHCR, and the remainder are Palestinian refugees registered with our sister-organization UNRWA. Syria’s conflict remains the world’s biggest producer of refugees (5.5 million), however in 2016 the biggest new factor was South Sudan where the disastrous breakdown of peace efforts in July of that year contributed to the outflow of 739,900 people by year’s end (1.87 million today).
Second is displacement of people inside their own countries, whose numbers were 40.3 million at the end of 2016 compared to 40.8 million a year earlier. Syria, Iraq, and the still very significant displacement inside Colombia were the biggest internal displacement situations, nonetheless the problem of internal displacement is a worldwide one and accounts for almost two thirds of the global forced displacement total.
Third is asylum seekers, people who have fled their country and are seeking international protection as refugees. As of the end of 2016 the number of people seeking asylum globally was 2.8 million.