79.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide

Saturday 20 June, on World Refugee Day, the UNHCR published the annual report on forced displacement in 2019. The report shows a shocking picture. In 2019, worldwide 79.5 million people were forcibly displaced. Never before have there been so many people fleeing persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order. In 2019, the number of displaced people rose by as much as 9 million compared to the previous year. This is in line with figures that show that from 2010 to 2019 the number of displaced people nearly has doubled.

Taking a closer look at the data, the report shows that 40%, an estimated 30-34 million, of the forcibly displaced people are children. Children make up less than one-third of the global population but are over-represented among the world’s forcibly displaced population. There are 45.7 million internally displaced people. These people had to flee their homes but did not cross a border and therefore are not considered as refugees. They remain under the protection of their government, even if that government is the reason for their displacement.

Two thirds of all forcibly displaced people from five countries  

Development countries hosted 85% of the world’s population of forcibly displaced people. Developing regions continued to shoulder a disproportionately large responsibility for hosting displaced populations. Especially since developing countries have fewer resources available to meet the needs of people seeking refuge. More than two thirds, 68% of all forcibly displaced people came from just five countries. Namely, the Syria, (6.6 million), Venezuela (3.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.2 million), and Myanmar (1.1 million).  For Venezuela, displaced persons are included as a new specific group ‘Venezuelans displaced abroad’, since many of them do not have refugee status but a temporary special status as migrants. Many of the Venezuelans abroad fled to Colombia. We are here in Syria, Colombia, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar to support refugees and IDPs.

How did ZOA support these people in 2019?

In 2019, ZOA supported more than 1.4 million people with emergency aid or some form of reconstruction. Concentrating on providing food, clean water, non-food items, cash, and shelter. Below a short overview of what ZOA does for displaced people from the 5 countries with the highest numbers of displaced persons. The description is not exhaustive but gives an impression of ZOA’s support.

Syria: shelter and hygiene materials

Intense fighting in Syria’s civil war has caused millions of Syrians to flee their homes in search of safety and shelter. In 2019, ZOA provided emergency humanitarian aid in Syria. People were provided blankets, stoves, hygiene materials, and other emergency items. In emergencies, ZOA focuses on acute shelter needs by providing tents and tarpaulins, repairing damaged houses, or upgrading temporary facilities. In Aleppo, home rehabilitation for 40 damaged apartments provided 216 people (including children, the elderly, and disabled people) housing. ZOA is also supports IDPs and returnees in the field of Food Security and Livelihoods.

Colombia: water and sanitation facilities

Venezuelan migrants in Colombia face a myriad of challenges, including a lack of sanitation facilities, poor hygiene, the threat of waterborne disease, and vulnerability to (sexual) abuse and violence. In 2019, ZOA provided migrants in La Guajira with 500 water tanks, 380 water filters, and 300 latrine kits. Tippy tap kits were provided, and healthy hygiene practices were promoted. To involve youth, a latrine and tippy tap decorating contest was held, raising awareness on safe sanitation and hygiene practices. In La Guajira, ZOA also supports migrants to improve their food security.

Afghanistan: shelter and latrines

The year 2019 was particularly violent in Afghanistan. ZOA collaborated with government departments and community leaders to select 280 households who needed assistance. These households, including elderly, female, and child-headed households, received cash and essential training to repair their damaged homes. Also, ZOA assisted 356 IDP households and host community members by constructing 50 new shelters and a latrine for safe access to sanitation.

South Sudan: education and livelihood opportunities

Political conflict, compounded by economic woes and drought has caused massive displacement and raging violence in South Sudan. In 2019, ZOA focused on providing school-age children with life skills training, trauma counselling and livelihood skills. School-age children comprise a significant number of the displaced, and it is of great importance to minimize educational interruption. Classrooms and temporary learning spaces were rehabilitated and scholastic materials were provided. Teachers and PTA-members received Trauma Awareness and Healing training. Older children and youth were trained in agriculture, in auto-mechanic skills, to establish canteens in market places, and to practice beauty parlour skills.

Myanmar: clean water and livelihood assistance

Ongoing internal conflict and natural disasters have created exceedingly dangerous conditions for internally displaced people, and host communities in Myanmar. In 2019, ZOA provided water filters to all households in 24 especially vulnerable villages, supporting over 6,000 people with equitable and safe access to clean water. To ensure continued access to safe water, training on how to use, clean and maintain the filters was provided. Also, basic hygiene kits were provided and 40 disability-friendly emergency latrines were constructed benefitting 2,000 individuals. Besides, almost 7000 smallholder farmer households – a mixture of host community members, IDPs, and returning IDPs, were supported breaking the poverty cycle.

Click to read the Annual Report and learn more about what ZOA did in 2019.

The entire UNHCR report can be found here.