Ukrainians second largest group: more people fleeing than ever before

The Russian war of aggression increases the number of displaced people worldwide to more than one hundred million.

Ukrainians second largest group: more people fleeing than ever before

The Russian war of aggression increases the number of displaced people worldwide to more than one hundred million. The head of the refugee agency UNHCR warns against focusing only on Ukraine. Donations are distributed very unevenly.

Wars, conflicts and crises are exacerbating the refugee crisis worldwide. More than 100 million people are now fleeing for the first time, more than at any time since the Second World War, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva. In its world refugee report, the organization speaks of a "dramatic milestone" that was reached not least because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and the difficult situation in Afghanistan and other countries.

The expulsion from Ukraine is the fastest growing such crisis since UNHCR was founded in 1951. Within weeks, Ukrainians had become the second largest refugee group in the world, after Syrians. So far, 4.9 million people have fled Ukraine, and almost seven million from Syria.

The report actually refers to the previous year. Because of the dramatic consequences of the Russian war of aggression, the UNHCR, as an exception, also gave the current number of refugees as of May 2022. But even at the end of 2021, a record number of people were already fleeing: 89.3 million, eight percent more than a year earlier, reports the UNHCR . It was the 15th consecutive annual increase. Overall, more than twice as many people were fleeing than ten years ago.

Around 60 percent of the displaced found refuge within the borders of their own country. "What we are seeing in eastern Ukraine is very brutal and very scary," said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. But it would be fatal if the focus was only on Ukraine. Huge sums of money were missing to help people in other parts of the world. Among other things, he mentioned tensions in West and East Africa, in the Middle East, the situation of the Rohingya displaced from Myanmar and the situation in South America, where many countries have taken in refugees from Venezuela.

The Ukraine crisis has made it clear that, with political will, many people could be taken in, Grandi said. "I'm not naive, I understand the context and that it can't always be like that," he said. But dealing with the masses of Ukrainian refugees shows "that taking in streams of refugees on the coasts or borders of rich countries is manageable." Governments should do something about the fact that refugees are portrayed as people who are only taking jobs away from the population.

Germany was the largest host country behind Turkey, Colombia, Uganda and Pakistan, with 1.3 million people admitted. Outside of Syria's neighboring countries, Germany is the largest host country for Syrians, with 621,000 refugees. Overall, 87 percent of all refugees worldwide have found refuge in low- and middle-income countries.

According to Grandi, the crises are becoming more and more complicated. Conflicts would be fueled by growing inequality. Bad governance prevents development in many places. Climate change is intensifying the struggle for resources, for example in the Sahel zone in Africa, which is fueling smoldering ethnic conflicts. Soaring food prices are likely to drive even more people to flee, he said. More and more other migrants are already on the move with the refugees who are threatened in their homeland and are in need of protection under international humanitarian law. Lack of prospects and desperation because they can no longer support their families, many went in search of a better life.

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