In just six months of 2023, over 110 million people were forcibly displaced

Almost 90% of displaced people are living in low to middle income countries, with 83% of internal displacements recorded in the sub-Saharan region of Africa

October 26, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
A temporary camp located in northern Afghanistan (W. Shellemberg/UNHCR)

Over 110 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes by June, 2023, according to new data released by the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). 

More than one in every 73 people across the world are now forcibly displaced, of which almost 90% are living in low and middle income countries, the agency said in its Mid-Year Trends report, released this week.

By June, seven displacement situations alone accounted for approximately 90% of the new displacements recorded globally. This includes the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, and Ukraine. 

According to the UN, internally displaced people (IDPs) accounted for 57% of all people who had been forced to flee their homes as of mid-2023. Nearly 7 million people were displaced internally in the first six months of this year, predominantly in Sudan, the DRC (with 1.3 million people newly displaced in 2023, adding to the over 6 million people who are already internally displaced), Somalia, Ukraine, and Myanmar.

83% of these displacements were reported in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. In the first half of this year, over 3 million people were displaced within Sudan, in addition to nearly 250,000 Sudanese people and more than 163,000 people of other nationalities who fled to other countries in the region. By the end of September, the number of displaced Sudanese reached 4.3 million.

The number of refugees in the world reached 36.4 million by June of this year. Syrian people continue to form the world’s largest refugee population, with over 6.5 million refugees reported across 130 countries as of June. The second highest number of displaced people was reported from Afghanistan (6.1 million). 

Ongoing conflicts, violence, and human rights violations are likely to have displaced over 114 million people by the end of September, the report estimates. 

Since the report has only documented displacements until June, the data does not include the mass dispossession and forced displacement that has taken place within Gaza since the start of Israel’s horrific bombardment of the besieged enclave on October 7.

As of October 26, after nearly three weeks of relentless attacks, more than 7,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza.

According to a flash update published by the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on October 25, 1.4 million out of the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza had been internally displaced as of Wednesday. Of this, 629,000 people are sheltering in 150 UN-designated emergency shelters. 

UN-run schools that have turned into emergency shelters housing thousands of displaced people have themselves also been targeted by Israeli airstrikes. As of October 25, at least 29 schools run by the UN Refugee Welfare Agency (UNRWA) had been hit by Israeli airstrikes, eight of which were being used as shelters for IDPs. At least one facility so far has been hit directly, killing at least six people.