Global Trends 2019: Forced Displacement in 2019

Tens of millions of people were able to return to their places of residence or find other solutions, such as voluntary repatriation or resettlement to third countries, but many more were not and joined the numbers of displaced from previous decades. By the end of 2019, the number of people forcibly displaced due to war, conflict, persecution, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order had grown to 79.5 million, the highest number on record according to available data.3 The number of displaced people was nearly double the 2010 number of 41 million (see Figure 1) and an increase from the 2018 number of 70.8 million. The most recent annual increase is due to both new displacement and the inclusion in this year’s report of 3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad who face protection risks, irrespective of their status – a category that was not included in the broader global forced displacement total in previous versions of the Global Trends report.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso, the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria), the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Venezuela) and Yemen represent just a few of the many hotspots in 2019 driving people to seek refuge and safety within their country or flee abroad to seek protection.

The proportion of the world’s population who were displaced continued to rise. One per cent of the world’s population – or 1 in 97 people – is now forcibly displaced. This compares with 1:159 in 2010 and 1:174 in 2005 as the increase in the world’s forcibly displaced population continued to outpace global population growth.5

During 2019, an estimated 11.0 million people were newly displaced. While 2.4 million sought protection outside their country,6 8.6 million were newly displaced within the borders of their countries.7 Many displaced populations failed to find long-lasting solutions for rebuilding their lives. Only 317,200 refugees were able to return to their country of origin, and only 107,800 were resettled to third countries. Some 5.3 million internally displaced people returned to their place of residence during the year, including 2.1 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo8 and 1.3 million in Ethiopia. In many cases, however, refugees and IDPs returned under adverse circumstances in which the sustainability of returns could not be assured.

At the end of 2019, Syrians continued to be by far the largest forcibly displaced population worldwide (13.2 million, including 6.6 million refugees and more than six million internally displaced people). When considering only international displacement situations, Syrians also topped the list with 6.7 million persons, followed by Venezuelans with 4.5 million. Afghanistan and South Sudan had 3.0 and 2.2 million, respectively (see Figure 2).9