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Record 120 million people displaced globally — UN report

Kieran Burke
June 13, 2024

A UN report reveals that 120 million people were forcibly displaced globally in 2024 due to conflict and violence. This marks a record high, affecting 1.5% of the world's population.

A camp for displaced Syrians in the north of Idlib province
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that unless there was a shift in geopolitics figures would continue to riseImage: Omar Albam/DW

The UN said on Thursday that a record-breaking 120 million people were living in a forcibly displaced status globally between the beginning of 2023 through to May 2024.

The new data was revealed in the Global Trends report by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) which outlines statistics tracking the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people around the world.

Conflict driving displacement

"An estimated 117.3 million people remained forcibly displaced at the end of 2023, having been forced to flee persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order," the report stated.

In May, 120 million people were displaced globally, nearly 10% more than the figures from 2022, representing around 1.5% of the world's population, the UNHCR said.

Gaza: 'Most people want to leave,' says veteran diplomat

"Conflict remains a very, very big driver of mass displacement," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters.

"Unless there is a shift in international geopolitics, unfortunately, I actually see the figure continuing to go up," he added.

"This year, for the 12th consecutive year, the number of refugees and displaced people has grown: from 114 to 120 million. Behind these numbers lie as many human tragedies, which only solidarity and concerted action can alleviate and solve," Grandi said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. 

Key areas of displacement in 2023

The report highlighted flashpoints around the world where conflict and violence had forced people from their homes. The fighting in Sudan which broke out in April 2023 was cited as causing one of "the largest humanitarian and displacement crises in the world" with more than 6 million people forced to flee by December 2023.

The UNHCR said that the ongoing war in Gaza "has had a devastating toll on the Palestinian civilian population" and that up to 1.7 million people or over 75% of the population had been displaced within the Palestinian territory.

According to the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), there are around 6 million Palestinian refugees currently under their mandate, 1.6 million of whom were in the Gaza Strip.

Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Haiti, Syria and Armenia were among the countries mentioned where conflict and violence had forced people to seek safety elsewhere.

9 million people displaced by war in Sudan

Most refugees head to low and middle-income states

The report pointed out that 75% of refugees and migrants headed to low and middle-income countries, countering the perception that most were heading to wealthy countries.

The report did, however, state that half of all new asylum applications were received in just five countries with the vast majority being made in the US with 1.2 million.

This was followed by Germany with 329,100 followed by Egypt, Spain and Canada.

AFP and DPA material was used in this report

Edited by: Alex Berry