Jun 21, 2019

Global refugees face increasing risk of long-term displacement

Syrian children at a refugee camp in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Cem Genco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Across the globe, the number of people forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution has risen to more than 70 million, almost double the number a decade ago, according to the latest annual report from the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Why it matters: The trends make clear that forced displacement has become an “entrenched norm,” as people continue to be uprooted by (mostly civil) war and for longer periods of time. Almost 16 million refugees have been in exile for 5 or more consecutive years in a given host country, and 6 million have been displaced for more than 20 years.

Details: The total figure includes 41 million people displaced within their own country, 25.6 million refugees and 3.5 million asylum seekers. Even still, it likely underestimates realities on the ground, as UNHCR’s official tallies are unable to capture some refugees who have not formally applied for asylum.

  • Just 5 countries — Afghanistan, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria — produced more than two-thirds of the world’s refugees.
  • Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda were the top host countries, and Germany was the only Western country in the top 10.

Between the lines: The newly displaced are fleeing new violence and old conflicts. Some 13.6 million people were newly displaced in 2018 — an average of 37,000 people per day.

  • The largest number of newly displaced came from Ethiopia, where more than 1.5 million have fled new intercommunal violence.
  • The next largest displacement was in Syria, where almost 900,000 people were forced from their homes by renewed fighting. This trend has accelerated in 2019. Since May 1, a regime offensive into Idlib province has displaced some 330,000 people.

What to watch: Governments are granting asylum to fewer people. In 2018, only 44% of asylum decisions resulted in any form of protection, down from 49% in 2017 and 60% in 2016.

But, but, but: Despite the negative trends, there are reasons for hope.

  • Ethiopia passed a law in January that enables refugees to obtain work permits and access education, Colombia gave residency and work permits to more than 500,000 Venezuelans, and Pakistan made it possible for refugees to open bank accounts.
  • These expanded protections are acknowledgments by host countries that refugees can contribute to local communities.

Hardin Lang is vice president for programs and policy at Refugees International.

Go deeper: Read Axios' deep dive on global refugees.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 664,695 — Total deaths: 30,847 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 124,464 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states. The CDC later announced domestic travel restrictions for the states.

Why it matters: Trump said hours earlier he was considering quarantine measures to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN such a measure would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health