117 million forced to flee: “An utter failure to protect civilians”

Published 13. Jun 2024
Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the new global displacement figures:

“Never before in recorded history have so many people in so many countries been fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution. Every year for more than a decade, we have documented new record numbers of both refugees and those internally displaced due to the brutality of armed men, faltering conflict resolution diplomacy, and global failure to protect civilians. New wars and emergencies are added to all the unresolved crises, resulting in more than 117 million people facing desperate situations.

“How long will national, regional, and global leaders fail to take decisive action to protect civilians? From Sudan to Ukraine, and from Burkina Faso to Gaza, civilians are driven from their homes and then often forgotten, their needs neglected for years or even decades.

“In much of Europe and North America, political arguments focus on evermore punitive policies to turn away those fleeing in desperation. Many wealthy countries advance policies of keeping refugees – or even sending them – far away, thus evading their responsibilities. Each year millions are trapped in inhumane conditions.

“More than two thirds of refugees remain in neighbouring countries. A handful of nations are hosting the majority of displaced people globally. Some nations, like Iran, Lebanon, Türkiye, and Uganda, host millions of refugees despite limited resources, whilst other wealthier nations make every effort to avoid fulfilling their duty.

“This year’s figures represent yet another failure of international solidarity and coordination. As the number of those requiring help increases, we see both humanitarian and developmental funding dropping. Vast crises – such as in DR Congo, Sudan, or the Central Sahel region – continue to go unnoticed by both media and donors.

“This cannot continue. There must be a renewed effort to provide civilians with the protection they are entitled to, and to ensure that financial support matches the scale of the human suffering represented in today’s figures.

“How many more years can these numbers grow whilst much of the world continues to look the other way?”

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