The head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the food security crisis fueled by the Ukraine war is set to drive more people to flee their homes in poor countries, leading to rising levels of global displacement.
A report issued by the United Nations on Thursday showed that about 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 higher prices linked to the ban on grain exports, which would fuel further displacement elsewhere.
“If you have a food crisis in addition to everything you described — war, human rights, climate — it will only accelerate the trends that I describe in this report,” Filippo Grandi told reporters this week, describing the numbers as “staggering.”
“Obviously the impact if this is not resolved quickly will be very devastating.” He said that more people are already fleeing as a result of high prices and violent insurgencies in the Sahel region of Africa.
In general, the number of displaced people has increased every year over the past decade, according to a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is now more than double the 42.7 million displaced people in 2012.
Grandi also criticized what he called a “monopoly” of resources given to Ukraine while other programs to help displaced people are underfunded.
“Ukraine should not make us forget about other crises,” he said, referring to two years of conflict in Ethiopia and drought in the Horn of Africa.
Grandi added that the EU’s response to the refugee crises had been “uneven”. He compared wrangling between countries over taking small groups of migrants across the Mediterranean by boat to the generosity of European Union countries with Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion in February.
“It certainly proves an important point: responding to the influx of refugees, and the desperate arrival of rich nations’ shores or borders, is uncontrollable,” he said. The report says that low- and middle-income countries hosted 83% of the world’s refugees at the end of 2021.
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