The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million globally last year – the highest number in the UN refugee agency’s almost 70 years of operations.
The almost 70.8 million people forcibly displaced is up 2.3 million on the previous year, according to the agency’s annual Global Trends report.
This is also double the level recorded 20 years ago.
The number averaged out to 37,000 new displacements every day.
To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.
The figure of 70.8 million is conservative, as the crisis in Venezuela is still only partly reflected in this number.
In all, some 4 million Venezuelans, according to data from governments receiving them, have left their country, making this among the world’s biggest recent displacement crises.
Although the majority need international refugee protection, as of today only around half a million have taken the step of formally applying for asylum.
Within the 70.8 million figure in the Global Trends report are three main groups. The first is refugees, meaning people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees who are under the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
The second group is asylum seekers – people outside their country of origin and receiving international protection but awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status. At the end of 2018 there were 3.5 million asylum seekers globally.
The third and biggest group, at 41.3 million, is people displaced to other areas within their own country, a category commonly referred to as Internally Displaced People or IDPs.