More than 100 million people are forcibly displaced
At the end of 2021, the number of people forced to flee stood at 89.3 million.1 Since then, the war in Ukraine has displaced millions within the country as well as to other countries, primarily in Europe. In addition, new internal displacement surged in early 2022, notably in Myanmar and Burkina Faso as the situation in both countries continued to deteriorate.
As a result of these situations, as well as other increases described below, UNHCR announced on 23 May 2022 that the number of people forced to flee due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order had reached more than 100 million for the first time on record. This means 1 in every 78 people on earth has been forced to flee – a dramatic milestone that few would have expected a decade ago.
How has this figure been estimated?
In addition to the situations noted above, there have been other smaller changes in the number of people forced to flee to another country. UNHCR produces monthly estimates of the number of refugees and asylum seekers globally using the available updates and statistical modelling (termed "nowcasting"). Further, UNHCR collates information on returns of refugees or internally displaced people (IDPs) with no large events reported by the end of May 2022. These would have led to a decrease in the total number of people forcibly displaced. Taken together, these statistics reflect that overall some 11.8 million additional people were forced to flee in the first few months of 2022, driving the global total above 100 million.
Since the end of 2021, the number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate (including those in refugee-like situations) has increased from 21.3 million to 26.3 million, largely driven by the war in Ukraine, which has led to at least 4.9 million Ukrainian refugees remaining displaced outside their country as of 09 June 2022.2 Most of them have received temporary protection or have benefitted from similar national protection schemes in European countries.
In addition to the displacement from Ukraine, UNHCR produces monthly nowcasting figures of its own operational and government data. These figures show that the global refugee population is estimated to have increased by nearly 80,000 at the end of May, with increases and decreases observed in specific countries.
The number of Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s mandate also continues to increase in 2022, with 24,200 more refugees at the end of March 2022 than were reported at end-2021 according to UNRWA.
Refugee data sources for 2022
Internally displaced people
The war in Ukraine has led to the displacement of millions within the country. Estimations of these populations are challenging, due to the rapidly evolving situation in the country. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducts randomized, representative, telephone surveys to estimate the number of people displaced within Ukraine. At the end of May 2022, there were an estimated 7.1 million IDPs in Ukraine,3 an increase of 6.3 million compared to end-2021.
In Myanmar, the military takeover in February 2021 ignited widespread violence and continues to force many people to flee. Since the end of 2021, UNHCR estimates that the number of IDPs in Myanmar has grown by 366,800 people to over 1 million.4
In Burkina Faso, internal displacement continues to rise, with the country facing one of the fastest growing situations in the world, rising from less than 50,000 at the start of 2018 to around 1.6 million at the end of 2021. Since then, UNHCR estimates a further 270,300 have been displaced, with some 1.9 million people remaining displaced within the country at the end of March 2022.5
Internal displacement data sources for 2022
Venezuelans displaced abroad
Between 2020 and 2021 the number of Venezuelans displaced abroad grew from 3.9 million to 4.4 million, as COVID-19-related travel restrictions eased in the region. Since the end of 2021, no significant changes have been reported by the end of May 2022.
Data on pending asylum applications primarily relies on the monthly nowcasting of publicly available asylum statistics and on data provided by governments to UNHCR. As of the end of May 2022, the number of asylum seekers pending a decision on their application is estimated to be 4.5 million, some 131,000 lower than at end-2021.