Geneva (dpa) – Wars, conflicts and crises are exacerbating the refugee crisis around the world. More than 100 million people are fleeing for the first time, more than at any time since World War II, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva.
In its world report on refugees on Thursday, the organization spoke of a “dramatic milestone” that has been reached not least by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the difficult situation in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The expulsion from Ukraine is the fastest growing crisis since UNHCR was founded in 1951. In just a few weeks, Ukrainians have become the second largest group of refugees in the world after Syrians. So far, 4.9 million people have fled Ukraine and nearly seven million from Syria.
Dramatic Consequences of the Russian War of Aggression
In fact, the report refers to the previous year. Because of the dramatic consequences of the Russian war of aggression, UNHCR, as an exception, also gave the current number of refugees as of May 2022. But even at the end of 2021, a record number of people had already fled: 89.3 million, eight percent more than a year earlier, UNHCR said. It was the 15th consecutive annual increase. Overall, more than twice as many people were on the run than ten years ago. About 60% of the displaced have found refuge within the borders of their own country.
“What we are seeing in eastern Ukraine is very brutal and terrifying,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees. But it would be fatal if the focus were only on Ukraine. Huge sums of money were missing to help people in other parts of the world. Among other things, he mentioned tensions in West and East Africa, the Middle East, the situation of Rohingya displaced from Myanmar and the situation in South America, where many countries have taken in refugees from Venezuela.
The crisis in Ukraine has shown that, with political will, many people can be accepted. Governments must do something about the fact that refugees are portrayed as people who are just taking jobs away from the population.
Germany was the largest host country behind Turkey, Colombia, Uganda and Pakistan, with 1.3 million people admitted. Outside of Syria’s neighboring countries, Germany is the largest host country for Syrians, with 621,000 refugees. Overall, 87% of all refugees worldwide have found refuge in low- and middle-income countries.
Climate change exacerbates social crises
According to Grandi, crises are getting more and more complicated. Conflicts would be fueled by growing inequality. Poor governance impedes development in many places. Climate change is intensifying the struggle for resources, for example, in the Sahel zone of Africa, which is fueling latent ethnic conflicts.
Rising food prices will likely drive even more people to flee, he said. More and more migrants are already on the move with refugees who are threatened in their homeland and need protection under international humanitarian law. Due to lack of perspectives and despair for not being able to feed their families anymore, many went in search of a better life.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220616-99-681514/4