In just ten years, the number of refugees and displaced people in the world has doubled. Almost 90 million people were forced to live outside their homes last year – because of wars, violence, persecution, human rights violations or unbearable living conditions in their countries.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will present the report of his organization, the UNHCR, this Thursday. He appeals to the international community to act: “Either we do something to face so much human despair and find lasting solutions. Or we continue to move towards new terrible record numbers.”

A first of these is already known but not yet included in the report. War refugees from the Russian attack on Ukraine that began on February 24 are not included in the 2021 report and are likely to have a dramatic impact next year. The war there “triggered one of the largest and fastest growing displacement crises since the Second World War,” UNHCR said.

In addition to the misery in African countries, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Russian war of aggression has already made a significant contribution to the fact that it has now climbed to 100 million – a “dramatic milestone”, the United Nations refugee agency calls it.

More on the Ukraine war at Tagesspiegel Plus:

Last year’s number is particularly devastating to read from what an already high level it has risen from, year after year. In 2013, UNHCR registered 51.2 million refugees. A number that for the first time reached that of the Second World War and, according to the UN, the highest since there have been reliable statistics on flight.

This was due to the war in Syria and the massive flight it triggered. Syria, with 6.8 million people, remains the main country of origin of the refugees registered by the United Nations for 2021. It is followed by Venezuela (4.6 million), Afghanistan (2.7), South Sudan (2.4) and Myanmar (1.2).

Almost three quarters (72 percent) have found refuge in neighboring countries, provided they are not internally displaced persons, i.e. have stayed in the country. The vast majority of these are unstable and, above all, poor parts of the world. According to UNHCR, 83 percent of refugees end up in poor countries or those slightly above this threshold.

The poorest of the poor countries absorb more than a quarter of the people (27 percent). Only seven of the 89.3 million of the world’s displaced people were taken in by Europe. Germany is at the top here, where 79,700 new refugees received residence status last year, followed by France (51,000) and Italy (21,100).

Overall, Germany is also the European country with the most admissions: According to the UN count, 1.3 million people who had to leave their region of origin live here.

However, that is only around a third of Turkey’s reception capacity – which is called “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey” for the first time in the English UNHCR text: 3.8 million refugees have arrived there. Turkey is the country with the most recordings in the world. Germany ranks fifth among the world’s largest host countries after Turkey, Colombia – the refuge of many Venezuelans – Uganda and Pakistan.

The UN report also mentions glimmers of hope: the number of returnees has also grown. Overall, however, so many people would be displaced so quickly that the possibilities of helping them would permanently lag behind the need.