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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

4 mins ago - Health

First U.S. case of the Omicron variant identified in California

PhotoL Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, the CDC says.

Supreme Court appears likely to roll back abortion rights

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed likely to weaken abortion rights and perhaps to let states ban the procedure altogether.

The intrigue: The court seemed likely to throw out the framework established in Roe v. Wade, but it wasn't clear whether a majority of the justices were inclined to overturn the court's precedents entirely.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

How to meme a painting

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

How can a physical artwork become an NFT? One new company has just spent $12.9 million on a Banksy in an attempt to try out a new way of converting the real into the virtual.

Why it matters: The art market globally sees volume of about $60 billion per year, almost all of which is trade in physical objects. Art-world insiders including former Christie's c0-chair Loïc Gouzer are on the lookout for ways to monetize physical paintings without necessarily giving up physical ownership of them.