Record 65 Million People Displaced In 2016, With No Sign Of Slowing Down

RefugeesBy Ggia - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45303282

According to United Nations reports, the number of people forced from their homes (refugees) has voluminously jumped to 65.6 million across the globe by the end of 2016. This is statistically unprecedented, a strong statement of increasing violence and political instability globally.

This alarmingly swollen number cuts across 40.3 million persons who are internally displaced, 22.5 million refugees, as well as 2.8 million people in asylum across the world.

Source: UNHCR

This new number reveals an unhealthy leap of 300,000 people from what was recorded by the end of 2015 as substantiated by statements coming from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These revelations from the UNHCR illuminated the dreary humanitarian conditions of our world today with over 10.2 million people fleeing their homes in just 2016. Included in this is a chunk of 3.4 million people who took upon the international refugee status when they migrated across the borders of their countries to flee war and tyranny.

This equates to one person becoming displaced every three seconds – less than the time it takes to read this sentence,” UNHCR explained.

Refugees in Kabul

Refugees in Kabul, Afghanistan, receive aid from volunteers from the International Security Assistance Force. (U.S. Army Photo by SPC. Anthony Murray Jr)

With this trend of displacement consolidating throughout last year, what we had at the tail end was a worrisome culmination of 40.3 million internally displaced people globally. The reports showed Iraq, Syria and Colombia as the heaviest contributors to the number.

Aylan Kurdi

In a separate development, an additional 22.5 million people officially became refugees. About 11 million among this number happen to be children, with the report correctly addressing the “the highest level ever recorded“. Not surprisingly, people who are desperate to leave terrifying situations will resort to any measure to escape. Human smugglers have profited handsomely from this enterprise by offering rickety means of fleeing conflict, with many fellow human beings paying the ultimate price. One of the most powerful images of the Syrian refugee crisis was when the body of 3 year-old Aylan Kurdi (pictured above) washed up on a beach in Turkey. In September 2015, Kurdi and his family boarded an inflatable boat, which capsized about five minutes after leaving Bodrum, Turkey. The boat, which was designed for a maximum of eight people, was holding sixteen when it capsized. The tragic images of Aylan’s body lying dead on the beach haunted the world and was a horrifying reminder of the costs of conflict, inaction and political stalemate between multiple nations, which are clearly more committed to political gains than human welfare.


The war in Syria has been a hotly debated international debacle with interests of superpowers flung across both sides of the fence. The notable disparity in the American and Russian approach to the crisis has fanned the embers of conflict, ensuring the war is running into its sixth year. By the end of last year, 12 million people were forced to leave their homes due to raging violence. Over 5 million persons have flown the borders of the country with the figures unfortunately complemented by another 6.3 million Syrians who are internally displaced. So far, the Syrian crisis has claimed over 320,000 lives and that number shows no sign of slowing down.

The drums of war are beating a reverberating sound across the world with conflicts strewn across Africa and Europe. Most disturbing from Africa is the situation in South Sudan, described by the UN as the world’s “fastest growing refugee crisis and displacement crisis“. The crisis in Sudan will be entering its fourth year come this December. With a population somewhere around 11 million, over 3.5 million people in South Sudan have fled their homes. Aggravated violence last year meant by the end of last year, South Sudan had 1.4 million refugees.

Iraq still has a fair slice of the global number due to the terror inflicted by well-financed ISIS. Although now, large swathes of territories have been militarily wrestled back from ISIS control, the same cannot be said of last year where radical violence hit a premium.

So far some nations have been feeling the diplomatic brunt of the violence through allowing in refugees. Most particularly is Turkey, which is currently hosting 2.9 million refugees. Next is Pakistan which offers residence to 1.4 million while Uganda leads in Africa in housing over 940,000 refugees.

Condemning the crumbling humanitarian situation across the globe, UNHCR Chief Filippo Grandi voiced concerns that this is “the highest figure since we started recording these figures“. He goes on to say, “By any measure, this is an unacceptable number, and it speaks louder than ever to the need for solidarity and common purpose in preventing and resolving crises.”.

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