June 20, 2023 — A record high of 110 million people have fled their homes in search of safety and stability. This is more than any other time since World War II and an increase of 19 million people since the end of 2021.
Four out of five people who are forcibly displaced around the world live in, or come from, the 20 countries identified at greatest risk of humanitarian crisis in the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) annual Emergency Watchlist. The number of displaced people - over 62 million who are internally displaced people, over 35 million who are refugees, and over 5 million who are asylum-seekers - has nearly doubled since 2014. People are forced to flee from the war in Ukraine, the conflict in Sudan, and the impacts of climate change and economic instability in East Africa, the Central Sahel, and Latin America.
Local, national, and international guardrails protecting crisis-affected communities around the world have been weakened, leaving people with limited options but to leave their homes in search of safety, security, and basic necessities. Among the displaced, marginalized groups like children, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community often bear the brunt of these crises. They face risks of gender-based violence, including sexual assault and exploitation, limited access to healthcare, and disruption in education.
David Miliband, the IRC’s President and CEO, said:
"110 million people displaced from their homes is a startling indictment of a failing international system and its guardrails designed to protect against humanitarian suffering. Armed conflict, economic turmoil and unchecked climate change are driving long standing crises to new extremes, and sparking new ones. Against this unprecedented backdrop, and while 90% of the displaced are hosted by low and middle-income states, wealthy nations are cracking down on the well-established right to claim asylum.
“Even more worrisome is the exclusion from this jarring figure of the over 30 million displacements within home countries by climate disaster. 20% of these displacements have taken place in least developed countries and small island states, which, as the IRC has pointed out, have done the least to contribute to a climate crisis that is hitting them the hardest.
“A World Refugee Day which is historic for all the wrong reasons demands diplomacy; demands to deal fragile states into the climate bargain; and demands replicating the kind of solidarity and funding channeled to Ukraine to global crises driving displacement. Only then can we hope to see far different levels of abject humanitarian distress next year.”