On the 19th of June the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released its annual report on “Global Trends on forced displacement” for 2016. The report collects the yearly data on the different categories of people affected by forced displacement: refugees, returned refugees, asylum seekers, Internal Displaced People (IDPs), returned IDPs, stateless people and other persons of concern to UNHCR.
The total number of forced displaced people is unexpectedly on the rise: they number 65.6 million in total in 2016, which is an increase of 300,000 from 2015. This is a record number, higher than the previous record set in 2015. The distribution of this number among the categories of the report shows that that 22.5 million are refugees, 40.3 million are IDPs, 2.8 million are asylum seekers, and finally 3.2 million reported stateless people – however, the total number of stateless people is estimated to be 10 million. Before diving deeper into the data on countries of destination and of origin, it is worth mentioning a few interesting and thought-provoking figures emerging from this report. The UNHCR calculated that within the span of a minute 20 new displacements happen. Moreover, 51% out of the total number of forcibly displaced people are minors. Finally, 84% of the world’s refugees under UNHCR’s mandate are hosted in developing countries. Within this percentage, the number of people hosted in the least developed countries -according to the UN Statistics Division classification – namely Uganda, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo, is on the rise.
With regard to the countries of origin the UNHCR reports that Syrians not only remain the biggest population among refugees in 2016, but also that more than half the Syrian population now lives outside the country.
The second half of 2016 also witnessed a rapid increase of displacement from South Sudan. In fact, due to the increase of violent episodes within the country, coupled with the economic stagnation and food insecurity, the number of South Sudanese refugees grew by 64% in the last six months of 2016. Similarly, Burundi refugees increased by 40%.
Out of the Members States of the European Union, only Germany is in the top 10 hosting countries for refugees. As for asylum applications, Germany remained the highest recipient of new applications and Italy experienced an increase of 50.000 applications in 2016 compared to 2015.