The United Nations’ refugee agency says nearly 71 million people were displaced worldwide last year by war, persecution, and other violence — an increase of more than 2 million from 2017 and the highest level seen in almost 70 years.
The annual Global Trends report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees counted the number of the world’s refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people at the end of 2018 — including, in some cases, people who have lived for decades away from their homes.
It found that the country the most refugees have been driven away from was Syria with 6.7 million, followed by Afghanistan with 2.7 million.
The report’s release comes on the eve of World Refugee Day on June 20.
Launching the report, the high commissioner, Filippo Grandi, said he wanted to inform U.S. President Donald Trump and other political leaders in host countries that it is “damaging” for them to depict migrants and refugees as threats to jobs and security.
The report also presented a statistical account of people who struggle to survive by crossing rivers, deserts, seas, fences and other barriers in order to escape government oppression, gang killings, sexual abuse, militia murders, and other violence at home.
“The global trends, once again unfortunately, go in what I would say is the wrong direction,” Grandi said on June 19. “There are new conflicts, new situations, producing refugees, adding themselves to the old ones. The old ones never get resolved.”
The United States, meanwhile, remains the “largest supporter of refugees” in the world, Grandi said.