The International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for global action to make this World Refugee Day a turning point in the campaign for dignity for the world’s displaced people as new data reveals that 89.3 million people were forced to flee their homes last year - taking the global toll to over 100 million, inclusive of Ukraine. 

The numbers reflect the almost 90 million people displaced by ongoing conflict and disaster in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ethiopia. They do not include the more than 7 million internally displaced within Ukraine, and upwards of 6 million refugees who have fled the country since the conflict began in early 2022. In total, a record 100 million people globally have been uprooted from their homes - a striking increase of 20% compared to the 82.4 million displaced at the end of 2020. Overall, the number of displaced persons has more than doubled in the last ten years alone.

David Miliband, President and CEO at the International Rescue Committee, said: 

“100 million people displaced, including 14 million Ukrainians forced to flee their homes, is historic but will be the prelude to higher and higher numbers without urgent action. This is not simply because it is the greatest displacement figure the world has seen since World War II, nearly equal to the populations of the United Kingdom and Canada combined. Nor even because of the unprecedented rate with which the world has reached this appalling mark. This year’s World Refugee Day is historic because it dramatises the scale of global failure. This is System Failure in Action - failure of nations, of diplomacy and of the legal regime.

"This year’s World Refugee Day must not simply be a day for reflection. It must be a day for action, to fight impunity and to shore up support for refugees and their hosts – wherever they are, and whomever they are. 

“For the record number of displaced persons globally, the populations that the IRC and the wider humanitarian sector serves, we need a total system upgrade. Inherent to this is a concerted and meaningful surge both in the humanitarian aid dedicated to the world’s worst crisis zones and in global resettlement commitments. The worst outcome would be standing by and allowing this grim milestone to be eclipsed next year, as the world’s most vulnerable pay the price of our inaction with their lives.” 

Catastrophic displacement figures are now an annual norm, with violence and the worst impacts of climate change testing the resilience of millions in crisis zones worldwide. Some 274 million people are today in need of humanitarian assistance - an increase of 63% in just two years. The impact of the war in Ukraine has exacerbated this suffering, especially in areas already affected by food insecurity, such as East Africa. The international community must meaningfully invest in these crisis zones, including prioritising official development assistance (ODA) to fragile and conflict-affected states.
This year, the IRC is also calling on the EU to take concrete action to reduce the number of people in displacement, including by urgently kickstaring and expanding its refugee resettlement programmes. In 2021, EU states resettled just over 15,000 refugees -  little more than 1% of the 1.47 million in need of resettlement worldwide. 

Harlem Desir, Senior Vice President - Europe, International Rescue Committee, said:

“As the number of people in displacement continues to mount year-on-year, it’s alarming that the EU’s resettlement efforts are backsliding - with numerous programmes currently at risk of being placed on hold, delayed or downscaled as attention shifts onto the crisis in Ukraine. 

"Not only does every delay and shortfall have a direct impact on people’s lives, but it also piles additional pressure onto the low and middle-income countries that today host 83% of the world’s refugees. With resettlement needs expected to soar in 2023, there is no excuse for this inaction.

"The IRC is calling on EU member states to reverse this dangerous trend, and make resettlement the EU success story it once promised to be. Today’s striking figures must be a wake-up call, galvanising EU leaders to extend the remarkable solidarity displayed with people fleeing Ukraine to all refugees, regardless of their country of origin.”        

The IRC and six other organisations are this week raising the alarm on resettlement - urging EU member states to meet their current commitment of resettling more than 20,000 refugees this year, and make bold new pledges to welcome at least 40,000 refugees through this route in 2023. The EU must also ramp up investment in resettlement and reception infrastructure to ensure that these programmes are fit for the future, and able to meet rapidly rising needs. 

To mark World Refugee Day, the IRC is launching the “We Bring More than We Carry” campaign. Learn more by clicking here