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June 20, 2019

Number of displaced people worldwide at an all-time high

Number of displaced people worldwide at an all-time high

Last year, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally. In its almost 70 years of operations, this is the UN refugee agency’s highest recorded number. According to the agency’s annual Global Trends report, this number is 2.3 million more than the previous year and also double the level recorded 20 years ago. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, commented: “What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution.”

IZA World of Labor author Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga has looked at whether market mechanisms can solve the refugee crisis. In his article, he writes:  “A way to distribute refugees efficiently, while respecting their rights, is to combine two market mechanisms. First, a market for tradable refugee admission quotas that allows refugees to be established wherever it is less costly to do so. Second, a matching system that links refugees to their preferred destinations, and host countries to their preferred types of refugees.”

The report identifies three main groups: refugees, or people forced to leave their country because of conflict, war or persecution, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The last group are displaced within their country and amount to 41.3 million people globally. Asylum seekers amount to 3.5 million and in 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide. Grandi added: “While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees.”

According to the report, more than two-thirds of all refugees worldwide came from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia; 6.7 million refugees came from Syria, a considerably higher number than any other country, and 2.7 million came from Afghanistan. Ethiopians were the largest newly displaced population in 2018 due to inter-communal violence throughout the year.

Read more on the topic of migration and ethnicity.