GENEVA - The United Nations refugee agency said that it expects more than two million refugees next year need resettlement -- a 36-percent increase on the 1.47 million estimated to need resettlement this year.
"This rise is attributed to the humanitarian impacts of the pandemic, the multitude of various protracted refugee situations, and the emergence of new displacement situations over the past year," UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told reporters.
The UN agency last week said that more than 27 million people around the world were living as refugees at the end of last year, with the vast majority settled in poorer countries.
In some cases, refugees with special assistance of protection needs are identified as needing to be resettled in a third country, with most resettlement requests coming from Africa, followed by the Middle East and Turkey.
Refugees from Syria, whose country has been ravaged by more than a decade of civil war, account for most replacement needs, with nearly 780,000 spots estimated to be needed.
Afghan refugees are estimated to have the second highest resettlement needs, with 274,000 people seeking to be moved, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar, UNHCR said.
But the needs far outstrip the places available.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, refugee resettlement plummeted to record lows, with only 22,800 departures that year.
The number was much higher last year, at 39,266, but still a far cry from what is needed.
"UNHCR is calling on states to help narrow the gap between the numbers of those in need of resettlement and places made available," Mantoo said.
"Resettlement remains a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of some of those most at risk or with specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection," she said.
Of the refugees deemed by UNHCR to be in need of resettlement last year, more than a third had special legal and physical protection needs, nearly another third were survivors of violence and torture, and 17 percent were for women and children at risk.
Only a few countries participate in the resettlement program, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Britain, Australia and the Nordic countries.