Danish Refugee Council Calls For Solutions For The World’s 79.5 million Refugees And Displaced

According to new figures from the UNHCR, the number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide has gone up from 70.8 million to 79.5 million since last year. This tragic, however not unexpected, rise highlights the need for world leaders and the global community to find sustainable solutions to displacement. The COVID-19 crisis has only intensified this urgent need, says the Danish Refugee Council.


By the end of 2019, 79.5 million refugees and displaced persons were driven out of their homes and communities, marking an increase of 8.7 million compared to the year before. The figure consists of 45.7 million internally displaced persons, 4.2 million asylum seekers and 29.6 million refugees and others forcibly displaced outside their country. In 2019, the countries of Yemen, DR Congo, Syria and Venezuela accounted for most new displacements, however people fleeing long-term, unresolved crises such as those in Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Somalia also make up a big part of the overall number.

“Sadly, the new number is not surprising. Unfortunately, even though Denmark and Europe have experienced a drop in the number of new arrivals of refugees in the last couple of years, this does not reflect the overall situation in the world, where the number of people who are forced to flee keeps rising,“ says DRC Secretary General Charlotte Slente.

“Nonetheless, it is important to remember that behind each of these numbers there is a human being with hopes and dreams. We remain committed to supporting them – the dire consequences of the COVID-19 crisis make it all the more urgent,” says Charlotte Slente. 

A Crisis In A Crisis

So far, 2020 has been largely defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of cases is on the rise in many countries hosting the majority of the world’s refugees and displaced persons. Recently, an outbreak of coronavirus was detected in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, which cover 13 km2 and are home to more than 850,000 human beings.

However, the side effects of COVID-19, such as increased unemployment and a resulting lack of basic necessities might be just as dangerous as the virus itself.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 lays bare the societal inequalities existing today. Those who have the least pay the highest price. Although the virus itself doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, the consequences do. Refugees and displaced persons are among the most vulnerable groups in the world, and are disproportionately hit harder than those with resources,” says Charlotte Slente.

“The massive economic consequences that the virus has caused, combined with tough measures aimed at curbing the spread, have added additional hardship to the lives of refugees and displaced persons – it has become a new crisis inside one that already existed,” says Charlotte Slente.

Solutions are possible

Although the numbers have risen for the eighth consecutive year, refugees and displaced persons still make up around 1 percent of the global population, and the majority of them live in countries neighboring the conflicts from which they fled.

“It is definitely possible to assist refugees and migrants, but it takes global solidarity to do so. Poorer countries will look at richer countries who close their borders and suspend the right to asylum and ask themselves why they should keep on hosting more than 80 percent of the global population of refugees and displaced persons. Well-off countries need to allocate finances and increase resettlement efforts,” says Charlotte Slente.

“We also need to rebuild post-conflict countries and make sure that people will be able to go back home safely. In most cases, this remains the biggest wish for refugees and displaced persons. We can make this happen, but it takes international cooperation. Global challenges call for global solutions,” says DRC Secretary General Charlotte Slente.


The figure 79.5 million accounts for:

  • 26.0 million refugees
  • 45.7 million internally displaced people
  • 4.2 million asylum seekers
  • 3.6 million Venezuelans displaced abroad

You can find more facts and figures in UNHCR’s Global Trends report  


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