The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released its Mid-Year Trends Report on Wednesday claiming that, as of the end of September 2023, over 114M people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
Citing war, persecution, violence, and human rights violations, the UNHCR claimed that conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Sudan, and Ukraine were among the driving forces for displacement in the first half of 2023. Humanitarian crises in Afghanistan as well as insecurity and natural disasters in Somalia were also singled out in the report.
It's by no means the world's rich countries, but the low- and middle-income countries — many of which themselves suffer from poverty and crises — that continue to bear by far the greatest burden of hosting displaced populations. Moreover, while Western countries pursue increasingly restrictive refugee policies, there's a lack of funding for international refugee programs. Much greater international assistance and a more equitable distribution of responsibilities are needed to support refugees and allow them to return home safely and with dignity.
The UNHCR's new data on displaced people is a wake-up call for the international community to step up its efforts in protecting people who have fled war and crises. Even if many states are not living up to their responsibilities under the Geneva Refugee Convention, there are indeed some positive developments. These include the deal reached in June by EU members to revise the bloc's asylum procedures to share responsibility for migrants and refugees. This will not solve all problems, but it's an important step in the right direction.