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Global forced displacement rises to record 117.3 million people in 2023

The U.N. refugee agency’s report documents lives upended by persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations.

Photo by Eric Masur / Unsplash

GENEVA (AN) — The number of people forced to flee their homes surged 8% in a year, reaching an amount equal to the Philippines' population.

By the end of 2023, an estimated 117.3 million people were forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and public disturbances, the U.N. refugee agency reported on Thursday.

That's up from the 108.4 million refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people reported at the end of 2022 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Conflicts drove the displacement around the world.

Since April 2023 Sudan's conflict displaced more than 6 million people within the country and prompted 1.2 million others to flee to neighboring countries. More than 1.3 million people were displaced in Myanmar last year due to rising violence from the military takeover. The Israel-Gaza war has displaced up to 1.7 million people, or 75% of the population in Gaza.

UNHCR Global Trends report 2024
UNHCR Global Trends report 2024

UNHCR's report shows 12 years of unbroken year-on-year increases. One-in-69 people, or 1.5% of the world’s population, is now forcibly displaced – almost double the 1-in-25 people who were displaced a decade ago.

It estimates forced displacement kept increasing in the first four months of 2024 and by the end of April was likely to have exceeded 120 million.

“Behind these stark and rising numbers lie countless human tragedies. That suffering must galvanize the international community to act urgently to tackle the root causes of forced displacement," said Filippo Grandi, head of UNCHR.