War-fuelled food crisis to add to ‘staggering’ number of displaced persons

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UN refugee chief says more than 100 million people around the world have been displaced as a result of war, persecution and other crises.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the number of internally displaced people above 100 million for the first time, and the UN is warning that the resulting food crisis could force even more people to flee their homes.

By the end of 2021, some 89.3 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, abuse and violence, according to the UN Refugee Agency’s annual report on displacement, published Thursday.

As many as 14 million people have joined that number since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, while rising prices due to blocked grain exports and disrupted harvests are expected to drive more displacements elsewhere.

“Having a food crisis on top of everything I’ve described — war, human rights, climate — will only accelerate the trends I described in this report,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told this week journalists. the numbers as “staggering”.

“Clearly the impact will be quite devastating if this is not resolved soon.” More people had already been displaced as a result of rising prices and violent uprisings in Africa’s Sahel region, he said. “It’s already devastating,” Grandi added.

According to the UN, the number of displaced persons – many of them within their own national borders – has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

“Every year of the last decade, the numbers have increased,” Grandi said.

“Either the international community will come together to take action to address this human tragedy, resolve conflicts and find lasting solutions, or this horrific trend will continue.”

According to the report, some 27.1 million people – a record – were living as refugees at the end of 2021, while the total number of asylum seekers rose by 11 percent to 4.6 million.

For the 15th consecutive year, the number of internally displaced persons due to conflict has risen to 53.2 million.

The UNHCR said last year was notable for the escalation of violence in countries already experiencing protracted conflict, such as Afghanistan, and the emergence of new unrest.

Grandi welcomed the outpouring of support for fleeing Ukrainians, but emphasized the contrast to the response to people escaping war in countries like Syria and Afghanistan.

He also criticized what he called a “monopoly” of resources given to Ukraine when other programs to help the displaced were underfunded.

“Ukraine should not make us forget other crises,” he said, pointing to the two-year-old conflict in Ethiopia and the drought in the Horn of Africa.

The European Union’s response to refugee crises has been “unequal,” Grandi added. He compared the bickering between states over the reception of small groups of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean by boat to the generosity of EU countries towards Ukrainian refugees.

“It certainly turns out to be an important point: responding to the influx of refugees, to the arrival of desperate people on the coasts or borders of rich countries is not unmanageable,” he said. According to the report, low- and middle-income countries will have hosted 83% of the world’s refugees by the end of 2021.



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