Internally displaced people from Rutshuru territory in troubled DR Congo's North Kivu province lining up for lunch at the Nyakabande Holding area in Kisoro, Uganda, June 7, 2022 after being resettled by the government of Uganda following deadly fights between M23 rebels and DRC troops. (BADRU KATUMBA / AFP)
GENEVA – A food security crisis stoked by the Ukraine crisis is set to push more people to flee their homes in poorer countries, driving record levels of global displacement even higher, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said.
A report by the UN body showed on Thursday that some 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, abuse and violence at the end of 2021. Since then, millions more have fled Ukraine or been displaced within its borders, with price hikes linked to blocked grain exports set to stoke more displacement elsewhere.
Overall, the number of displaced has increased every year over the past decade, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees report. It is now more than double the 42.7 million people displaced in 2012
"If you have a food crisis on top of everything I have described – war, human rights, climate – it will just accelerate the trends I've described in this report," Filippo Grandi told journalists this week, describing the figures as "staggering".
"Clearly the impact if this is not resolved quickly will be pretty devastating." Already, more people were fleeing as a result of price hikes and violent insurgencies in Africa's Sahel region, he said.
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Overall, the number of displaced has increased every year over the past decade, according to the UNHCR report. It is now more than double the 42.7 million people displaced in 2012.
Grandi also criticized what he called a "monopoly" of resources given to Ukraine whereas other programs to help the displaced were underfunded.
"Ukraine should not make us forget other crises," he said, mentioning a two-year-old conflict in Ethiopia and a drought in the Horn of Africa.
The European Union's response to refugee crises has been "unequal", Grandi added. He compared the bickering between states over taking in small groups of migrants crossing the Mediterranean by boat with EU countries' generosity with Ukrainian refugees since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February.
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"Certainly it proves an important point: responding to refugee influxes, to the arrival of desperate people on the shores or borders of rich countries is not unmanageable," he said. According to the report, low-and-middle income countries hosted 83 percent of the world's refugees at the end of 2021.