Global Refugee Crisis

The world is currently facing its largest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

As of 2022, the United Nations Refugee Agency counts 100 million displaced people in total, of which 27 million are refugees seeking safety in foreign countries. The UN puts the number of children at 41%, while Amnesty International’s estimate is higher still.

The number of people fleeing their homes has doubled since 1990, and risen every year for the last decade. According to the UNHCR’s Global Trends report, the number displaced by war, persecution and other disasters rose by more than 10% over 2021 (from an already record number). By any standard, this constitutes a global emergency.

Alongside the distress and trauma of people forced to flee their homes, leaving family and friends behind, this scale of displacement represents an enormous loss of human potential worldwide. Education and child development, careers and capacity to work, as well as the experience of social and cultural life, can be severely affected. This represents a tragedy for humanity: millions of people whose energy and ideas could be contributing to local, national and global flourishing are often left struggling to feed their families in harsh conditions — notably, as of 2022, 83% of refugees are being hosted by countries with developing economies, placing strain on their resources and ability to cope with the influx of people. A recent UNHCR report concluded that two-thirds of refugees were living in poverty.

One of the primary causes of the rising in refugee numbers is an increase in wars and other violent conflict. Even before the exodus caused by Russia’s invasion of in Ukraine, according to World Bank figures in 2021 year there were medium- or high-intensity conflicts in 23 countries. In addition, climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, global food shortages and economic crises have forced many more to leave their homes.

Major current hotspots include Ukraine, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Venezuela. It is usually neighboring countries that take in the majority of refugees, and to which aid is often most appropriately transferred.

Tech for Refugees is currently focusing on Ukraine, as well as Pakistan and the Horn of Africa, with the intention of expanding to serve global needs as more technology partners join the initiative.

Ukraine 2022: Largest and fastest displacement of people in Europe since WWII

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, millions of people have been displaced from their homes. As of October, the number forced to flee Ukraine is over 7.2 million, with millions more displaced internally.

This represents the largest and fastest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. As well as dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of war, and the death and absence of loved ones, many refugees are in urgent need of shelter, food and other vital necessities.

The majority of refugees from Ukraine are living in the neighboring countries of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Slovakia. And the numbers are expected to continue rising. The UNHCR projects that by the end of 2022 4.3 million people will have fled to Poland alone, and has declared Ukraine a Level 3 emergency – the highest level.

Pakistan

Pakistan was already struggling to support more than 1.3 million refugees from the conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, for whom Pakistan is by far the largest host country. Then, beginning in June 2022, this situation has been compounded by the effects of catastrophic flooding across at least a tenth of the territory of Pakistan itself. As of October 2022, this disaster had displaced 7.9 million people, with nearly 600,000 living in temporary camps. The United Nations declared 80 districts «calamity hit», more than half of which are currently hosting approximately 800,000 refugees from Afghanistan. Indeed, several of the worst-affected districts in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces host the highest number of Afghan refugees.

The Horn of Africa

There are currently more than 4.6 million refugees, and more than twice as many internally displaced people, in the Horn of Africa — nearly a sixth of the total global number. Countries containing significant refugee flows include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, the last of which currently hosts more refugees than any other African country.

The causes of these movements of people are complex, including war and border disputes, political upheavals and inter-communal conflicts, human rights violations, climate change, food shortages and high food prices, and COVID-19. The UNHCR reports that «displaced populations were driven towards negative coping mechanisms such as reducing food consumption, depleting savings and selling assets.»

To find out more about the efforts of Tech For Refugees and its partners in Ukraine, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa see Programs