© UNHCR/Saleh Bahulais
© UNHCR/Saleh Bahulais

Four Takeaways from the 2020 UNHCR Global Trends Report

Four Takeaways from the 2020 UNHCR Global Trends Report 

Just in time for World Refugee Day on June 20, UNHCR released their annual Global Trends in Forced Displacement Report. The report highlights trends and changes in forced displacement in 2020 and explores the impact of forced displacement on people around the world. It also calls for global awareness and action to address the root causes of conflicts and persecution that force people to flee in the first place. 

We encourage you to read (and share!) the full report. In the meantime, here are four key takeaways. 

1. A record number of people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2020 

2020 was an unprecedented year, according to the annual UNHCR Global Trends report. A record-breaking 82.4 million people are living in forced displacement, forced to flee war, conflict, persecution, and human rights violations worldwide. The report also noted that climate emergencies, such as floods and droughts, have become another key driver of forced displacement, forcing people to stay away from their homes for an undetermined period of time.

2. Displacement is growing despite the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the lives of people on a global scale but particularly those who are displaced. Refugees are among the most affected groups as they face high levels of economic insecurity, food insecurity, and limited access to health and protection services. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on mobility, the level of displacement has increased, with the current number of people forcibly displaced more than double that of a decade ago. 

3. Youth are disproportionately affected by forced displacement 

The UNHCR report discusses how forced displacement particularly affects youth. Youth under the age of 18 account for 42% of all forcibly displaced people. In addition, between 2018 and 2020, UNHCR estimates show that over 1 million children were born as refugees. Refugee youth are a particularly vulnerable population and are at great risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect. Yet they are also drivers of positive change in their communities and around the world. Investments in refugee youth today can have a transformative impact on the state of forced displacement in the future.

4. We all have a role to play 

Global awareness and action are urgently needed to support those fleeing conflict and persecution. To celebrate 20 years of World Refugee Day, WUSC shared six actions that you can take to shine a light on the global displacement crisis. One of those actions is to check out our World Refugee Day Spotlight Series where we profiled current and former refugees who have contributed to making the world a better place all throughout June. You can find the series on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Learn how young people with lived refugee experiences are helping to address the crisis.

It is essential that conversations about forced displacement include those who have been directly impacted by the crisis. Here are just a few of the ways in which young refugees are stepping up to be part of the solution:

A Youth Advisory Committee was created for our Displaced and Refugee Youth Enabling Environment Mechanism (DREEM) project, a new five-year initiative being implemented in northern Kenya with funding from the Mastercard Foundation. The role of the Youth Advisory Committee is to provide technical and experiential input to support the project’s key pillars, including strengthening economic opportunities for refugees. Watch this video to learn more about the members of the Youth Advisory Committee.

Alumni of our long-standing Student Refugee Program also play an important role in shaping both the work of WUSC and the SRP, and in building solutions to the global refugee crisis. Learn more about our SRP Alumni Advisory Program.

Three young women advocates for refugee education joined the Honourable Karina Gould, Canada’s Minister of International Development for a conversation on Refugee Education in support of the #TogetherForLearning campaign. Watch the event recording. 

Read the full report

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