By Vatican News Staff writer
The year 2020 has been a year like no other, mainly because of the havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But it is also a year that has seen 80 million people forced from their homes, and that is not even the full picture for 2020.
According to a new report by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, this total included 45.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 29.6 million refugees and others forcibly displaced outside their country, and 4.2 million asylum seekers.
Pandemic, conflicts and persecution
It also says that despite the U.N. Secretary-General’s urgent appeal in March for a global ceasefire “while the world fights the pandemic, conflicts and persecution,” violence in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Somalia, and Yemen continued to drive new displacements in the first half of 2020.
Added to that long list, are significant new displacements registered across Africa’s Central Sahel region as civilians are subjected to brutal violence, including rape and executions.
Speaking about these latest grim numbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, says, “With forced displacement doubling in the last decade, the international community is failing to safeguard peace. We are now surpassing another bleak milestone that will continue to grow unless world leaders stop wars.”
The global public health emergency this year also presented added challenges for the forcibly displaced and stateless.
The findings show that some of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 made it harder for refugees to reach safety.
Fewer durable solutions
The UN Refugee Agency stresses that “fewer durable solutions were found for the displaced in 2020 compared to the same period in previous years."
It also notes that “just 822,600 displaced people returned home, most – 635,000 – were IDPs.”
“Although the actual number of stateless people remains unknown, 79 countries in the world have reported 4.2 million stateless people on their territory.”