- The Afghans makes up for the largest refugee populations across the globe
- At present, there are nearly 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world
- Amid Russia-Ukraine battle, more than 6.6 million Ukrainians have fled the country
World Refugee Day: The rising tension between Russia and Ukraine has opened the floodgates of sorrow. No matter where in the world, if there's military conflict, people in and around the area are bound to be the first collateral. Similarly, in two cases of global turmoils, where the Taliban took back Afghanistan after US security withdrawal and Russia's on-going attempt to annex Ukraine, over 12 million people have been rendered homeless.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counted more than 100 million people globally, who have been displaced and forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution. The staggering number of refugees has been driven by wars in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. In Ukraine, there’s been a massive exodus of people since Russia invaded the country in February.
Let's take you through the case studies
The Afghans make up for the largest refugee populations across the globe. Presently, there are nearly 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees in the world. 2.2 million among them are registered in just Iran and Pakistan. There's another chunk of 3.5 million people, who are internally displaced, having fled their homes, seeking refuge within the country. As the situation continues to nose dive in Afghanistan even today, this figure is likely to hit the sky in the next few years. The number of people fleeing is likely to continue to rise.
Why are people of Afghanistan fleeing
The people of Afghanistan have been marred by 40 years of conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food shortage and most importantly Covid. According to UNHRC, in recent times, "violence in Afghanistan is worsening in intensity and spreading in reach — causing even more human suffering and displacement. Their resilience and the resilience of their host communities is being stretched to the absolute limit". Today, nearly 6 million Afghans have been driven out of their homes and their country by conflict, violence and poverty.
Where are Afghan fleeing to
As per UNHRC data, the lion's share of Afghan refugees never left the country. They are mostly internally displaced. "In addition to the 667,900 displaced in 2021, there were already 3 million internally displaced Afghans at the end of 2020," said the UNHRC report. Afghans are the third -largest displaced population in the world, after Syrian refugees and displaced Venezuelans. The vast majority of refugees from Afghanistan are living in Pakistan and Iran, which continue to host more than 1.4 million and 780,000 registered Afghan refugees, respectively.
UNHCR’s work in Afghanistan focuses on protecting the most vulnerable and assisting newly displaced Afghans with life-saving shelter, food, water and core relief items, both within Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Together with our partners, we are committed to staying on the ground and delivering our emergency response as long as we can access those in need.
As Ukraine battles for its existence, more than 6.6 million Ukrainians have fled, with the number continuing to grow. Men aged 18 to 64 have been required to remain in the country to aid in its defence, so most of the refugees are women and children. Ever since the battle began, individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe stands at 5,137,933 (UNHRC figure) while border crossings from Ukraine since 24 February 2022 have been pegged at 7,703,857.
The situation represents Europe’s biggest and most rapid exodus of people since the Second World War, when an estimated 11 million people were displaced from their home countries by 1945. Post-war European history is also littered with refugee movements generated by conflict between the Soviet Union and the West. Given Ukraine’s population is 44 million, it’s quite possible the ongoing conflict may result in refugee flows that surpass the Second World War’s.
Where have the Ukrainians taken refuge
The majority of Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland, but Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and Moldova have also received refugees. Some Ukrainians have also been able to relocate to third-country destinations, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Ukrainians displaced or trapped
But the UNHCR estimates that more than seven million Ukrainians are displaced within the country, in particular those who have fled the intense fighting in eastern Ukraine for the western city of Lviv, and those who fled Kyiv while the country’s capital was under siege. Counting both refugees and internally displaced individuals, more than a quarter of Ukraine’s population is now displaced.
Still others are trapped and unable to leave their devastated homes and communities, essentially meaning that they have been displaced without being able to leave.
Though there are recent reports of people returning to parts of Ukraine as Russian forces have moved out, the war is showing no signs of letting up, making it more than likely that both refugee flows and internal displacement will continue to grow.
(With inputs from UNHCR and AP)
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