BERLIN (AP) — The number of people around the world forced to abandon their homes likely increased to more than 84 million in the first half of this year, an increase fueled in particular by conflicts in Africa, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the number of displaced people — most of them within their own countries — was up from 82.4 million at the end of 2020.
“The international community is failing to prevent violence, persecution and human rights violations, which continue to drive people from their homes,” the agency’s head, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement. “In addition, the effects of climate change are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in many areas hosting the forcibly displaced.”
A UNHCR report found that the number of people classed as refugees under its mandate was more than 20.8 million halfway through the year — an increase of 172,000 from the end of last year. The number of asylum-seekers stood at 4.4 million, an increase of 237,000.
“Although comparable figures for internal displacement are not yet available, based on the information at hand UNHCR estimates that global forced displacement likely exceeded 84 million by mid-2021,” it said. Some 1.1 million people returned to their areas or countries of origin in the year’s first half.
The agency said that over 4.3 million new internal displacements were recorded between January and June in 33 countries where it is monitoring the displacement situation.
It said that was a sharp increase from a year earlier and that intensifying violence led to “significant” displacement in Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Myanmar, South Sudan and countries in west Africa’s Sahel region.
UNHCR said its figures came from governments and its own offices around the world and were supplemented by data from non-governmental organizations.