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The Lowdown Hub

‘Human despair’ as more than 100m forced to flee their homes amid war and violence' Worrying decade


Refugees at Lviv Central railway station CREDIT: Simon Townsley


More than 100 million people were forced to flee their homes last year – a 20 per cent increase on the previous year – according to figures released by the United Nations.

In 2021, 89.3 million fled due to persecution, conflict and violence, taking the global toll to more than 100 million when including displacement caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UN refugee agency said the data continue “a worrying decade-long rising trend”. At the end of 2020, the figure was 82.4 million. In 2012, it was 42.7 million.

“Every year of the last decade, the numbers have climbed,” said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner. “We either take action to address this human despair and find lasting solutions, or we keep sprinting towards terrible new landmarks.”

The year was most notable for the “sheer number of existing conflicts that escalated and new conflicts that flared up”, the report added. According to the World Bank, 23 countries hosting a combined population of 850 million people faced high- or medium-intensity conflicts in 2021. More than seven million people are internally displaced within Ukraine and more than six million refugees have left Ukraine since the conflict began in early 2022.

In Afghanistan, more than 900,000 people were displaced after the country fell to the Taliban. The conflict in the Tigray region in Ethiopia led to at least 2.5 million more people being displaced within their country.