A record that should never have been set: 100 million displaced people

Date:

A record that should never have been set: 100 million displaced people

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Monday, December 26, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • In particular, Mr. Morales claimed that people of African origin and other racial and ethnic minorities are treated differently from other refugees in Poland and Belarus.

  • The UN refugee agency issued a dire warning in January, stating that the region’s refugees were struggling to access enough food, medicine, and clean water due to deteriorating conditions and that they risked dying unless things changed.

  • More than 3,000 people lost their lives or disappeared while attempting to travel by water to Europe between 2022 and 2021.

  • At least 70 migrants were reported dead or missing in only one attempt in March off the coast of Libya, the starting point for several crossings.
  • According to UNHCR, countries worldwide have pledged a record $1.13 billion to help those displaced due to conflict, violence, and human rights violations.

The UNHCR published the 100 million statistics in May, and agency chief Filippo Grandi called it “a record that should never have been achieved.” The number includes people escaping conflict, violence, human rights violations, and persecution.

The number has increased from about 90 million in 2021. Violence or long-lasting conflicts caused a lot of people to move around the world, especially in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Syria, and Myanmar.

Thousands of desperate migrants who wanted to get to Europe took dangerous trips across the Mediterranean, putting their lives in the hands of people traffickers.

These adventures ended tragically all too frequently.

An IOM worker distributes aid kits to newly displaced communities in Ma’rib, Yemen.
Rami Ibrahim, IOM

Conditions for migrants in Yemen are getting worse

A Saudi-led coalition that backs the government and Houthi rebels and their supporters have been fighting in Yemen for more than seven years. Because of this, more than 4.3 million people have had to leave their homes, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.

The European Union’s Humanitarian Aid branch (ECHO) and the UN agency for migration, IOM, both announced in May that they were stepping up efforts to address the needs of the more than 325,000 people who have been displaced by the conflict, including migrants and the communities that are hosting them.

According to Christa Rottensteiner, the head of the IOM mission in Yemen, “the situation is also getting worse for migrants in Yemen, especially women, who are living in appalling conditions with no control over their lives.”

Even though the situation is terrible, people who leave countries in the Horn of Africa continue to go to and pass through Yemen.

When they get there, travellers have to go on dangerous journeys. Many head north to find work in Gulf countries.

They often have to cross local frontlines under pressure, which puts them at risk of being arrested, poorly treated, exploited, and moved against their will.

A family living in an informal settlement in Raqqa city, northeast Syria.Delil Souleiman for UNICEF

There are few chances for a safe return to Syria

Since the war in Syria has been going on for 11 years, about 5 million young Syrians have never seen their country at peace.

Over 80,000 Syrians live in the large Za’atari camp in Jordan. Many of them may have to stay in Jordan for a long time.

In July, Dominik Bartsch, who works for the UNHCR in Amman, Jordan’s capital, said that the chances of a return “do not look good right now.” “We do not observe a climate in Syria that would be favourable for returns.”

Only 17% of the 675,000 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan live in the two main refugee camps, Za’atari and Azraq. The rest live in towns and villages with Jordanians.

Rohingyas are still leaving Myanmar

After a military campaign of persecution more than five years ago, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fled their homes in Myanmar. Nearly a million people reside in the sizable Cox’s Bazar camp in neighbouring Bangladesh, across the border.

In March, the UN released its most recent response plan. It asked for more than $881 million to help the refugees and the more than 500,000 Bangladeshis who live nearby and depend heavily on aid.

This year, many Rohingya who tried to cross the Andaman Sea, one of the most dangerous sea crossings in the world, still left Myanmar.

When it was reported in May that more than a dozen migrants, including children, had died at sea off the coast of Myanmar, the Asia and Pacific Director of the UN refugee agency, Indrika Ratwatte, said that the tragedy showed how desperate Rohingya were to leave the country.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine, a man places his hand to the window of a train car as he says goodbye to his wife and children before they depart on a special evacuation train.
Photo by Ashley Gilbertson VII for UNICEF

Refugees from Ukraine are treated with a “double standard”

According to UN refugee agency data, more than 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees were registered across Europe in December, ten months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 and appears to be expected to last until 2023.

UN organizations got ready to help as soon as the violence started. UNHCR, along with other UN agencies and partners, managed the response to refugees on behalf of national governments.

For instance, personnel helped the government in the neighbouring country of Poland register refugees and give them housing and aid.

Filippo Grandi praised European countries for being willing to take in Ukrainian refugees, most of whom were looking for safety in their neighbours. However, he also said he felt terrible for the country and its people.

Ripped to pieces

Families have been arbitrarily torn apart. He warned that many more people will suffer the same fate if the war continues.

However, when it came to some members of minority cultures, this generosity of spirit was not always there. Mr. Grandi exposed the racism, bigotry, and violence they experienced in March.

Mr. Grandi stated during a speech on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that the UN refugee agency had seen “the ugly reality” that some Black and Brown people fleeing Ukraine and other wars and conflicts around the world had not received the same treatment as Ukrainian refugees.

In July, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants González Morales repeated Mr. Grandi’s worries. In particular, Mr. Morales claimed that people of African origin and other racial and ethnic minorities are treated differently from other refugees in Poland and Belarus.

Due to the ongoing armed conflict in the Tigray region, which started on November 3, 2020, between Ethiopian national forces, Eritrean troops, Amhara forces, and other militias on the one side, and forces loyal to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front on the other, millions of Ethiopians remain internally displaced.

By the end of the year, a fragile peace deal brokered by the international community seemed to be holding. Help was getting to the troubled northern districts that had been cut off for months, and many people were going home to fix their lives.

The UN refugee agency issued a dire warning in January, stating that the region’s refugees were struggling to access enough food, medicine, and clean water due to deteriorating conditions and that they risked dying unless things changed.

Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesman for the UNHCR, said that the terrible conditions in these camps show how the lack of access and supplies affects millions of displaced people and other civilians in the region.

Refugees have also come under direct attack. In February, for example, armed people broke into an Eritrean camp in the Afar region, killed the people there, and took their things. This drove thousands of Eritreans to escape.

In August, UN agencies issued a critical funding request to assist over 750 000 people fleeing to Ethiopia. Without the necessary funding, the World Food Programme warned, many refugees would go without food.

A boat filled with refugees and migrants from across Africa waits to be rescued by the Sea Watch vessel, in Libya.
Hereward Holland/UNHCR

Thousands more people perish while trying to sail to Europe

More than 3,000 people lost their lives or disappeared while attempting to travel by water to Europe between 2022 and 2021. The UNHCR published this depressing figure in April. At a routine press briefing in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo informed the media that “the majority of the sea crossings took place in crowded, unseaworthy, inflatable boats, many of which collapsed or were deflated, leading to loss of life.”

Despite the high risk involved, many nevertheless decided to attempt a sea journey. At least 70 migrants were reported dead or missing in only one attempt in March off the coast of Libya, the starting point for several crossings.

Numerous reported fatalities occurred after a boat capsized off the Greek island of Karpathos in August. More than 70 dead were found after a shipwreck off the coast of Syria in September.

Aspire to a better future?

In December, it was stated that there was at least one bright spot amidst the sadness and struggles experienced by so many.

According to UNHCR, countries worldwide have pledged a record $1.13 billion to help those displaced due to conflict, violence, and human rights violations.

“Displaced people worldwide face extraordinary demands due to conflict, climate catastrophes, and other disasters,” said Mr. Grandi. People still have hope for a better future because the UNHCR keeps getting help from its kind donors.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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