80 Million Asylum Seekers and ‘Displaced Persons’ Worldwide, Highest Number Ever, Says UNHCR

EDIRNE, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 29: Refugees and migrants gather at Pazarkule border as they attempt to enter Greece from Turkey on February 29, 2020 in Edirne, Turkey. Turkey announced that it would open border gates for a period of 72hrs to allow refugees to cross into European countries after thirty …
Osman Orsal/Getty Images

A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report has revealed that 2019 saw nearly 80 million people ‘displaced’ worldwide, including 30 million asylum seekers and refugees, double the number since 2010.

The UN refugee agency’s report said that the number was also the highest ever recorded in its latest “Global Trends” paper. Of the 79.5 million displaced worldwide, 30 million are refugees or asylum seekers, and 45 million are “internally displaced”, meaning they had become refugees within their own countries’ borders.

Putting the headline 79.5 million figure in perspective, the number of displaced persons worldwide today is the equivalent to the total population of the whole of Europe at the end of the Middle Ages in the 15th century.

A clear majority of the asylum seekers now on the move come from just five countries. Syria topped the list with 6.6 million people displaced, followed by 3.7 million from Venezuela, 2.7 million from Afghanistan, 2.2 million from South Sudan, and 1.1 million from Myanmar.

Turkey currently hosts the largest number of asylum seekers at 3.6 million, followed by Colombia (1.8m), Pakistan (1.4m), Uganda (1.4m), and the only European country in the top-five list: Germany, with 1.1 million. However, in terms of new asylum applications, the United States saw the highest number in 2019 with 301,000 new claims for asylum, followed by Peru (259,800), Germany (142,500), France (123,900), and Spain (118,300).

“We are witnessing a changed reality where forced displacement is not only much more widespread at present, but is also no longer a short-lived or temporary phenomenon,” said UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi.

Reflecting that, the report revealed that fewer and fewer refugees and asylum seekers are now returning to their homelands. In the past decade, just 3.9 million returned to their homeland, compared to 9.6 million the decade before.

While the UNHCR does not make predictions of migrant numbers, some have speculated that Europe could see millions more in the coming years.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was even more clear earlier this year when he warned that Europe could see millions of migrants from Turkey flood into European Union member states after his government opened the gates in late February.

The Wuhan coronavirus led to Erdogan closing the border area, but Greek authorities have warned that the wave of migrants will likely come after lockdown restrictions have eased. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu openly stated in late March that migrants would return to the border when the crisis ends.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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