The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict has risen to a 70-year high with 70.8 million people displaced from their homes in 2018. Source: SBS News.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ annual Global Trends report shows that’s 2.8 million more people than in 2017, meaning roughly 37,000 people were forced to leave their homes every day last year because of war.
The report looks at three main groups of people: refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people (IDPS). In 2018, there were about 25.9 million refugees worldwide, half of whom were children under the age of 18.
UNHCR Regional representation spokeswoman Catherine Stubberfield said the number jump was concerning.
“Around half the world’s refugees today are children and of those almost 140,000 were unaccompanied or separated last year, which means that they were either travelling alone or without a parent or adult family member and that makes them highly vulnerable,” she said.
“That’s an alarming finding and the fact that so many displaced people are children has significant implications for the future. It’s critical that displaced children are particularly supported and that they don’t become a lost generation.”
Two-thirds of all refugees came from five countries – Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
The UNHCR estimates 1.4 million refugees needed resettlement last year but only 81,300 new places were provided. Only 92,400 refugees were resettled in 2018, so the gap between needs and places is now more than 90 per cent.
“What we’ve seen since 2012 is that the number of refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate has actually doubled and the reasons for that are multiple,” Ms Stubberfield said.
“On the one hand we’ve seen a major new crisis in places like Venezuela, but at the same time, we’ve also seen older crises, like the conflict in Syria, still ongoing and not resolved.
“So, fundamentally more people have been displaced, fewer people have been able to go home and that does create an increased need for resettlement places.”
Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power told SBS News Australia has the capacity to accept more.