Record 117 million forcibly displaced worldwide: UN


The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported June 13 that a record number of 117.3 million people around the world were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2023. The agency expects this number to rise to over 120 million cases by the end of this year, especially noting the situations in Sudan, Burma and Palestine. The conflict in Sudan that began in April 2023 has led to 6 million becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs) with 1.2 million people forced into neighboring countries as refugees. In Burma, conflict since the military coup of 2021 has resulted in 1.2 million IDPs, while over 75% of the population in Gaza was displaced between October and December amid the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the enclave.

International law prohibits forced displacement. Mechanisms such as the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) codify state obligations to protect individuals from forced displacement. For instance, the right of liberty of movement and to choose residence enshrined in Article 12, and the right not to be subjected to interference of home and privacy in Article 17, shield individuals from forced displacement. While Article 4 of the ICCPR states that some of these obligations can be derogated in times of public emergency, humanitarian law still ensures civilians must be treated humanely and be spared as much as possible from the effects of conflicts.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi stated after releasing the report: “Behind these numbers lie as many human tragedies, which only solidarity and concerted action can alleviate and solve.” Grandi caled upon the “international community to act urgently to tackle the root causes of forced displacement.”

From Jurist, June 13. Used with permission.

Note: The new figures represent a significant increase over the previous year’s figure of 110 million, itself an historic high.

Photo of Sudanese refugees in Chad: Henry Wilkins/VOA via Wikimedia Commons