As we entered 2021, there were 82.4 million people around the world displaced by conflict or persecution.
Thirty million of those are refugees, the rest are displaced within their own country (48 million) or asylum-seekers (4.1 million), according to UNHCR’s latest report. Nearly half of these forcibly displaced people are children.
55 percent of refugees come from three countries: Syria, Palestine and Venezuela.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “everything else has stopped, including the economies, but wars and conflict and violence and discrimination and persecution, all the factors that pushed these people to flee, have continued,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said.
Refugee journeys during 2020
In 2020, 1.27 million people from 64 countries became refugees. The infographic below shows the desperate journeys these people took despite the additional challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Africa accounts for more than one-third of the world’s displaced people. By the end of 2020, at least 30.6 million people were displaced across the continent.
In 2020, nearly 60,000 refugees fled from Ethiopia to neighbouring countries following violence in several parts of the East African country. In November 2020, fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region displacing more than one million people according to the International Organization for Migration.
In the Middle East, Syrian refugees continued to flee their country’s 10-year-long war, with nearly 134,000 recorded to have left in 2020. Half of them (65,000) fled to neighbouring Turkey, which now hosts the world’s largest refugee community – 3.7 million people. That same year, nearly a quarter of Syrian refugees (32,500) reached Germany.
In Latin America, nearly 400,000 refugees fled Venezuela following a political and economic crisis in the country. Of these, 139,000 were recorded fleeing to Peru, 80,000 to the Dominican Republic and 60,000 to Brazil.
In Asia, the UN recorded at least 29,000 refugees from Myanmar. Nearly all of these refugees arrived in neighbouring India (17,000) and Bangladesh (12,000).
In Europe, at least 89,000 refugees fled from Azerbaijan to Armenia following 44 days of fighting that broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Across the Atlantic, during 2020, the United States received 8,500 refugees from 20 countries. Nearly half of these refugees came from only three countries: Venezuela (1,600), El Salvador (1,200), and Guatemala (1,100). This is significantly lower than in 2019 when the country received 32,000 refugees.
Canada received 7,500 refugees from 21 countries in 2020. The top countries of origin were Nigeria (1,400), Iran (1,200) and Hungary (629). On the other side of the globe, Australia received only 956 refugees in 2020 – mostly from Iran.