As wars rage from Ukraine to Gaza, the number of displaced people is at a record high, the UN estimates.
More than 114 million people are estimated to be displaced worldwide, a record number that speaks to the “international community’s failure to solve conflicts,” the United Nations has said.
“The number of people displaced by war, persecution, violence and human rights violations globally is likely to have exceeded 114 million at the end of September,” UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said on Wednesday, marking an increase of 5.6 million from the end of last year.
The tally is the highest ever recorded by the agency since it began registering data in 1975.
UNHCR noted that in the first half of 2023, the main causes of displacement were conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; humanitarian strife in Afghanistan; and natural disasters and instability in Somalia.
Those newly displaced by mid-2023 included 11 million Ukrainians forced to flee the war with Russia, and three million Sudanese caught in the crosshairs of a civil conflict pitting the Sudanese army against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
A growing number of Palestinians are adding to the total as well. In October 2023 alone, 1.4 million Palestinians were forced from their homes by Israel’s all-out bombing campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip, which has reduced much of the territory to rubble, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA.
UN refugees agency chief Filippo Grandi lamented the international community’s failure to address the plight of displaced people and urged for a renewed push to forge solutions for them.
“As we watch events unfold in Gaza, Sudan and beyond, the prospect of peace and solutions for refugees and other displaced populations might feel distant,” Grandi said in a statement.
“But we cannot give up. With our partners, we will keep pushing for – and finding – solutions for refugees.”
While the outbreak of wars from Ukraine to Gaza has added to the displacement crisis, lingering humanitarian crises also play a major role.
The UNHCR report found that nearly one-third of forcibly displaced people hail from three countries – Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine.
Syria continues to have the highest number of refugees, with 6.5 million people spread across 130 countries, as of mid-year, and the second-largest number of internally placed people, at 6.7 million.
Colombia – in the throes of an armed conflict between the military, armed groups, and paramilitary forces – has the largest number of internally displaced people, with 6.9 million.