Every government is closing their borders on refugees

Total number of refugees globally reached up to 79.5 million

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR, the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide reached an unprecedented 79.5 million in 2019 — a total that has almost doubled in the past decade. This was revealed in the UN annual global refugee trend report that was released on Thursday on the eve of World Refugee Day.

 The report also pointed out those refugees face poor prospects of any quick end to their plight.  That is why it becomes increasingly crucial for the world powers to adopt new ways to fund aid programs, find innovative local solutions and hold corrupt regimes accountable for the global refugee crisis.
The report also highlights some important facts;

80 per cent of the world’s displaced people are in places with acute food insecurity and malnutrition or countries facing climate and natural-disaster risk;77 per cent are in situations of long-term displacement, such as in Afghanistan;85 per cent are staying in developing countries, generally a country neighbouring the one they fled;

Lloyd Axworthy, chair of World Refugee Council and former foreign minister of Canada has said that “They can’t pull up the bridges and stop living up to their international responsibilities of the UN Refugee Convention. Every government is closing their borders.”

In the 1990s, some 1.5 million refugees were able to return to their home countries each year. The past decade’s total is only 390,000.

Last year, 26 countries resettled a total of 107,800 refugees. Canada topped the list and welcomed 31,100 of them, followed by the United States at 27,500 and Australia’s 18,200.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that “we are witnessing a changed reality in that forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon. People cannot be expected to live in a state of upheaval for years on end, without a chance of going home, nor a hope of building a future where they are.
We need a fundamentally new and more accepting attitude towards all who flee, coupled with a much more determined drive to unlock conflicts that go on for years and that are at the root of such immense suffering.”
Last year’s global refugee increase was driven by new forced displacements in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sahel belt in Africa, Yemen and Syria, which is now in its ninth year of conflict and accounts on its own for 13.2 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people.

The surge from 70.5 million in 2018 to 79.5 million last year is also a result of better tabulation of Venezuelans outside of their country who fled their country due to increased political instability and economic crisis.   Many have lived abroad illegally with no status.
Last year, the Canadian-led World Refugee Council released a report with strong recommendations for individual states to do their parts to complement the works of the UN Refugee Agency.
Here are some important recommendations:
Develop a new peer-review system to call out countries that are not fulfilling their commitments to protect and help refugees;
Use innovative financing systems, including refugee bonds and private-equity instruments, for the benefit of refugee-hosting states;
Promote special measures through the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization for countries hosting large numbers of refugees in the developing world; and
Confiscate and repurpose frozen assets of corrupt or violent regimes to support those who are forcibly displaced by those regimes.

According to the UN refugee report, 45.7 million of the 79.5 million people had been displaced within their own countries and the rest stranded abroad awaiting asylum or resettlement to a third country. Thirty million to 34 million were children.

Five countries account for two-thirds of 33.8 million people displaced across borders: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Turkey hosted the largest number of people displaced across borders: 3.9 million, 92 per cent of them Syrian refugees. Colombia followed with nearly 1.8 million displaced Venezuelans. Germany came third with almost 1.5 million migrants. Pakistan and Uganda, each hosting 1.4 million refugees, rounded up the top five.
“Although the novel coronavirus had just emerged in late 2019, the subsequent pandemic has had … an unprecedented global social and economic impact, also affecting asylum systems,” said the report.
The monthly number of asylum claims in the European Union in March dropped by 43 per cent as asylum systems slowed or stopped with countries tightening borders in response to COVID-19. The same trends have been spotted in other parts of the world.
                                                                        Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor

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