Background information

Displacement worldwide

Two girls at a refugee camp for internally displaced people in Mopti (Mali)

The moment has come for a radical change in international efforts to address displacement. (…) We must stop just dealing with the consequences of displacement, and seriously start tackling its root causes.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the global refugee situation

Worldwide, there are more than 65 million displaced people – more than at any other time since World War II (source: UNHCR Global Trends 2016, published on 19 June 2017). These people are fleeing violent conflicts, human rights abuses or political, ethnic or religious persecution. Another factor that more and more frequently displaces many people from their home countries is extreme environmental and weather events. Only a small proportion of the world's displaced people embark on the journey to Europe. Around 84 per cent of all refugees remain in their region of the world and are hosted by developing countries.

According to estimates, more than 40 million people are internally displaced persons. However, under the terms of the Geneva Refugee Convention, they do not count as refugees and therefore have no right to the protection provided by international law. Nonetheless, as internally displaced persons, or IDPs, their situation is just as precarious, and they often become victims of violence and exploitation.

By the end of 2016, a total of 22.5 million people had found refuge outside their country of origin. 17.2 million of them count as refugees under the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In addition, there were 2.8 million asylum seekers. And, at the end of 2016, another 5.3 million people were registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA.

And there is no end in sight to this dramatic situation. In the Middle East in particular, people are faced with a humanitarian disaster. The civil war in Syria continues. In Syria, in Iraq and throughout the region there are hundreds of thousands of displaced people who have fled from the civil war and from political repression. But the number of displaced people is also increasing in other regions of the world. People are being displaced by violence and oppression in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria and other countries.

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