A record 110 million people have been displaced by war, persecution, violence and rights abuses, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, heightened by the war in Ukraine and recent conflict that erupted in Sudan.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and a rival paramilitary group which began mid-April has exacerbated concerns of a growing aid funding gap that is further threatening refugees’ access to vital assistance and services. Over 2 million Sudanese have been displaced in the ongoing conflict.
"More than 100,000 people have already crossed the border into Chad since the start of the fighting in Sudan and we fear that with the coming rainfall, people in this border area will be trapped and forgotten, with no access to critical lifesaving services or information on where to access them," said Audrey van der Schoot, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ head of mission in Chad, said.
Continued conflicts and fresh outbreaks of violence have displaced people within their countries and across borders. In 2022, internally displaced people made up 58% of all forcibly displaced people globally, according to the UNHCR’s Global Trends report.
Russia’s war in Ukraine caused the fastest and greatest displacement at 5.7 million with revised figures for Afghan and Venezuelan refugees also driving up the record total. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Myanmar, more than 1 million people were displaced within each country.
"People around the world continue to show extraordinary hospitality for refugees as they extend protection and help to those in need, but much more international support and more equitable responsibility sharing is required, especially with those countries that are hosting most of the world’s displaced," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.
Even as generous donors increasingly contribute to refugee assistance efforts — the U.N. recently announced a fundraising conference raised $1.5 billion in aid for Sudan — need is outpacing international support.
"The real-life consequences of funding cuts have impacted several refugee populations," Tazreena Sajjad, American University professor specializing in refugees and forced displacement, told VOA. She cited budget cuts by aid organization, who warned in 2021 that funding shortfalls would increase malnutrition, anemia, stunted child growth in Ethiopia and UNHCR cuts in last year that hampered access to soap and hygiene kits to combat an Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
But while appeals for aid grow, concerns regarding over-reliance and dependency remain.
"We live in an aid-dependent world,” Sajjad said, noting that "aid dependency has been created and institutionalized in systemic ways such that within the current international system, it is extremely challenging, and indeed impossible for the most part to not have to rely on international funding for humanitarian assistance."
"Correspondingly, a disruption such as a cutback in aid has a disastrous impact on infant and child mortality, and results in acute malnutrition, and increases the likelihood of child marriages," she added.
The UNHCR report said 76% of refugees worldwide are hosted by low- and middle-income countries and called for urgent funding for host countries.
At the end of 2022, the world had 35.3 million refugees, 62.5 million internally displaced people, 5.4 million asylum-seekers and 5.2 million others in need of international protection.