Almost 45,000 people a day were forced from their homes by conflict, persecution and disaster last year, new figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have revealed.
The figures show 16.2 million people were displaced in 2017, bringing the total number of people worldwide who are internally displaced or seeking sanctuary abroad to 68.5 million. It is the fifth year in a row that global displacement figures have increased.
The surge was precipitated by a series of worsening or ongoing crises - including conflicts in Syria and South Sudan, the DRC crisis and the persecution of the Rohingya population. More than two-thirds of refugees worldwide now originate from just six regions – Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.
Although two-thirds of displaced people remain in their country of origin the greatest increase was witnessed amongst refugees, with three million more people crossing borders to escape violence and warfare than in 2016. By contrast, the numbers of internally displaced persons remained stable at around 40 million.
Most refugees are living in developing countries, many of whom lack the resources to adequately provide for refugee children and their families. Turkey remains the world’s leading refugee hosting country with 3.5 million displaced people seeking refuge within its borders, while Lebanon hosts the greatest proportion of refugees relative to its size.
More than half of all refugees are children. Many are travelling the migrant routes alone having lost or been separated from their families.
SOS Children’s Villages UK CEO Alison Wallace said: “All too often the toxic political rhetoric surrounding the refugee crisis ignores the devastating impact that displacement can have upon children’s psychological, emotional and physical development. Many child refugees have survived trauma, bereavement and the loss of everything dear to them, their homes, friends, school – even families. Yet most will never receive the support and care they need.
“As the numbers of displaced and refugee children around the world continues to rise the world must act fast to develop a fair and humane solution to this crisis. One that treats refugee children with the dignity and respect they deserve, and prioritises their care and protection.”
SOS Children’s Villages UK is working to support refugee children and their families in refugee camps and along the world’s key migrant routes. Their emergency relief programmes provide:
- Emergency supplies, such as food, water, clothing, nappies and first aid
- Child-friendly spaces where children and families can find respite from their ordeal in safety
- Temporary care and shelter for unaccompanied child refugees
- Trauma counselling and psycho-social support
- Access to education and vocational training, including language courses
- Legal support to help children reunite with their families
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.