Daily Management Review

Record 65.6 million people were displaced in 2016


The number of refugees, or forcibly displaced persons, has almost doubled in the past 20 years, the UN Refugee Agency said in a report.

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By the end of 2016, a record 65.6 million people had been displaced by persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.

In 2016, the growth of displacement was largely obliged to conflicts in the countries of the Middle East, such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq. However, conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa also forced millions of people to leave their homes in countries such as South Sudan, Central African Republic, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. The region also adopted a growing number of refugees, which continued to exert tremendous pressure on public services and local infrastructure in neighboring countries.

1. Uganda is now the largest refugee-hosting region in Africa.

Largely due to the crisis in Southern Sudan, Uganda ousted Ethiopia in 2016 as the largest refugee-hosting region in Africa. Uganda also reported the largest number of newly arrived refugees around the world, with nearly half a million refugees from Southern Sudan arriving in the second half of the year.

The Bidi Bidi camp in northern Uganda is the world's largest refugee camp. At least 270,000 refugees are huddled in a relatively small piece of land. The country’s progressive laws on refugees grant them a right to work, own land, travel and access public services, including education.

Nevertheless, large influxes of refugees continue test the government’s ability to cope with the situation. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, Uganda received only 17% of the funds needed to provide basic support to refugees and host communities.

2. Southern Sudan recorded the largest outflow of population

In 2015, more than half of all refugees around the world came from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. But in 2016, South Sudan replaced Somalia in the top three countries, with the largest number of refugees, (1.4 million along with 1.9 million internally displaced persons). The majority of displaced persons were women and children who fled from community violence, economic decline, disease and hunger.

With the outbreak of the civil war in 2013, provision of humanitarian assistance was quite a challenge. President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, fighting for the power, left tens of thousands of dead and millions of hungry in addition to the impending famine in the country's regions.

3. Somali refugees return home

Voluntary repatriation is still the main long-term solution for refugees. As part of a tripartite agreement signed between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR in 2013, Somali refugees, many of whom were born in the Dadaab camp and never had a chance to see their own country, were helped return home.

In 2016, more than 36,000 of these refugees returned home, along with small groups of refugees from Yemen. This allowed reducing the number of Somali refugees in the country from 417,900 in 2015 to 324,000 in 2016.

The number of Somali refugees around the world has also dropped to 1 million in 2016.

4. The majority of asylum applications are submitted to South Africa.

In 2016, South Africa received a total of 35,400 applications. 8,000 was the highest number of applications from Zimbabwe, despite the fact that it was significantly lower than in 2009 - 149 thousand. The country also had a total of 218,300 outstanding cases: asylum-seekers came from Somalia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

5. Applications for asylum from Eritrea have increased tenfold.

Almost 10% of the Eritrean population of 5.8 million people received refugee status by the end of 2016. Eritreans also submitted 7,400 asylum requests in 2016 - 10 times more than 700 applications filed in 2015. Eritreans applied for granting of safe havens to countries such as Italy and the United Kingdom, where 1,300 applications were submitted.

source: bbc.co.uk