According to the United Nations, the global displaced are at an all-time high as a result of the Ukraine conflict.

The United Nations refugee agency said Thursday that Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed global displacement figures to record highs, calling the figures a “tragic milestone.” The United Nations noted in its global trends report that displacement levels have increased every year over the last decade, with figures currently at the highest level since record keeping began. The agency estimated that 89.3 million people would be displaced by the end of 2021, citing war, natural disasters, violence, persecution, and human rights violations as some of the causes. More than 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes as of today, accounting for more than 1% of humanity.

The invasion of Ukraine triggered the world’s fastest forced-displacement crisis since World War II, which, combined with other emergency situations in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere, “pushed the figure over the dramatic milestone,” according to the UN. Since Russia’s invasion, more than 5 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe. UNICEF said in a separate report Thursday that children make up nearly half of the total global refugee population over the last decade. By the end of 2021, a record 36.5 million children had been displaced as a result of cascading crises in Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Global displacement will continue to rise unless the international community makes a “new, concerted push toward peacemaking,” according to the United Nations refugee agency on Thursday. According to the World Bank, several conflicts erupted around the world last year, and existing ones escalated, with about two dozen nations, home to a total of 850 million people, experiencing medium- or high-intensity conflicts. In March, World Bank Group President David Malpass stated, “Fragility, conflict-related fatalities, and social unrest have increased dramatically.”

In addition to the conflict, the United Nations noted that food scarcity, inflation, and the climate crisis have exacerbated hardship and stretched the humanitarian response. Only five countries accounted for two-thirds of all refugees and displaced people: Syria (6.8 million), Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, low- and middle-income countries housed more than 80% of all refugees and Venezuelans displaced abroad. With 3.8 million refugees, Turkey had the world’s largest refugee population, followed by Uganda, Pakistan, and Germany. Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey hosted the most refugees per capita, accounting for one in every eight people. Many refugees are still in precarious and vulnerable situations after fleeing dangerous situations at home.

Last month, the World Food Program warned that Syrian families living in refugee camps in Iraq faced “alarming levels” of food insecurity. The country is home to approximately 260,000 Syrian refugees, including over 95,000 in camps. There are 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide, with 2.2 million living in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. The Biden administration evacuated 76,000 Afghans to the United States as part of the country’s chaotic withdrawal last year, leaving thousands behind who wanted to flee as the Taliban took over. The Afghan resettlement program in the United States has been overwhelmed, leaving some refugees struggling, separated from family members, and unsure of a long-term path forward.

Many people, including a group of Democratic senators late last month, have criticized the government’s asymmetrical treatment of refugees from various countries. “While the United States’ response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been admirable,” the senators wrote, “it is unfortunate that this welcoming and accommodating model is not the standard for all humanitarian crises, wherever they occur, whether in Haiti, Central America, Africa, the Pacific, or elsewhere.” The conflict in Ukraine has also contributed to global food and fuel price increases. From Nigeria to Yemen, the crisis is wreaking havoc on developing countries, exacerbating hunger and food shortages.

“Ripple effects of the Ukraine war have been reverberating globally against the backdrop of a gradual and uneven economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a United Nations analysis of the world’s hunger hot spots. With key Ukrainian ports closed, the United States and Europe have accused Russia of using food as a weapon in the conflict. “Disruptions to Ukraine’s agricultural sector and constrained exports reduce global food supply, further raise global food prices, and finally push up already high levels of domestic food price inflation,” the UN said. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, Ukraine and Russia produce about a third of the wheat traded in global markets and about a quarter of the world’s barley.

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