The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that approximately 110 million people have been forced to abandon their homes due to war, persecution, or human rights violations. The war in Sudan, which has displaced nearly 2 million people since April, is the most recent in a long list of crises that have contributed to this record-breaking number.
Filippo Grandi, the head of the U.N. refugee agency, told reporters in Geneva before the release of UNHCR's Global Trends Report for 2022 on Wednesday, "It's quite a damning indictment of the state of our world."
In the past year alone, an additional 19 million people were forcibly displaced, including more than 11 million who fled Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, constituting the largest and most rapid population displacement since World War II.
Grandi stated, "We are constantly faced with emergencies." The agency reported three to four times as many emergencies in 2012 as in previous years. "Very few make your headlines," Grandi remarked, arguing that the conflict in Sudan disappeared from most front pages after the evacuation of Western citizens.
In 2022, conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Myanmar displaced more than one million people in each country.
Most exiled individuals worldwide have sought refuge within their own country's borders. According to the UNHCR report, one-third of them, or 35 million, have fled to other countries, rendering them refugees. Grandi stated that most refugees are sponsored by low- to middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, not by wealthy nations in Europe or North America.
Turkey is currently home to 3,8 million refugees, the majority of whom are Syrians who fled the civil conflict, followed by Iran with 3,4 million refugees, the majority of whom are Afghans. In addition, 5,7 million Ukrainian emigrants are dispersed throughout Europe and beyond. According to UNHCR data, the number of stateless persons increased to 4,4 million in 2022, which is believed to be an underestimate.
With 730,400 new asylum claims in 2022, the United States received the most new applications. Grandi stated that it is also the country with the largest backlog in its asylum system.
"One of the things that must be done is to reform the asylum system to make it more rapid and efficient," he said.
The United States, Spain, and Canada recently announced plans to establish asylum processing centers in Latin America, to reduce the number of individuals who attempt to cross the Mexico-United States border.
As the number of asylum-seekers increases, so do the obstacles they face. "We see resistance. We observe stricter and stricter immigration or refugee admission regulations. We observe in numerous nations the criminalization of immigrants and refugees, who are blamed for everything that has transpired, as stated by Grandi.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) opposes the British government's proposal to ship asylum-seekers to Rwanda, which was reaffirmed by European leaders last week to halt migration across the Mediterranean. But there were also victories, said Grandi, citing a positive indicator in the European Union's negotiations for a new migration and asylum pact, despite criticism from human rights groups.
Additionally, Grandi celebrated that the number of migrants resettled in 2022 doubled from the previous year to 114,000. However, he conceded that this was "still a drop in the ocean."