World Refugee Day 2021

More people displaced now than ever before. Our teams – some of whom are refugees themselves – work each day to support them by fighting hunger, providing psychosocial support, improving access to clean water, and more.

2020 was a year of closed borders and restricted travel – but it was also a record-breaking year for displacement. Despite limits on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, climate change, hunger, persecution, and human rights violations reached a new record high. According to the UN Refugee Agency:

  • 82.4 million people were forcibly displaced in 2020. Of these, 26.4 million were refugees who crossed a border to find safety in another country, and 48 million were displaced inside their home countries.
  • The number of forcibly displaced people around the world has more than doubled since 2011, and 2020 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising displacement.
  • More than two-thirds of the world’s refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar. 86% are now living in low- and middle-income regions, stretching already-strained resources to the brink.

It’s easy to get lost among these numbers – but data does not tell the full story. Refugees have survived unimaginable trauma, but they have found the strength to persevere. Despite hardships, displaced people are women starting businessesmothers making friendships, fathers supporting their familiesgrandmothers learning about health and nutrition, and children dreaming of brighter futures.


Peter sits inside his family's home, surrounded by water.

Photo: Peter Caton
for Action Against Hunger,
South Sudan

When families flee their homes due to a sudden disaster, sometimes, they are forced to separate. Last year, when Peter’s community flooded and their family home was submerged, he and his son sent their loved ones to high ground, but they stayed behind try to ensure that their family would have enough to eat.

"The flood has already reached to this high level and yet the water is still coming and coming although the rain has stopped. This flood could be the worst I've seen in my life. People will die of hunger,” says Peter. 



Nyalat, a South Sudanese refugee in Ethiopia, with her young son.

Photo: Toby Madden
for Action Against Hunger,

"Once the war broke out, I experienced the difficulties of life in this world," says Nyalat, one of 2.2 million refugees who have fled the conflict in South Sudan. She and her children sought safety in Ethiopia and, with support from her fellow refugees and Action Against Hunger, they are overcoming hunger and finding stability.



Patrick Otim, an Action Against Hunger agronomist, and Dr. Charles Owubah, Action Against Hunger's CEO, check out the mushrooms grown by Lucy, a South Sudanese refugee in Uganda.

When it comes to refugee policies, Uganda is one of the world’s most welcoming countries. It currently hosts nearly 1.5 million refugees, primarily from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; 86% of them are women and children. With conflict ongoing in their home countries, many stay for the longer-term. 

Action Against Hunger provides refugees and the communities that host them with training and tools to improve their health, nutrition, and livelihoods – offering a more hopeful future. As the COVID-19 pandemic made life even more difficult for those already struggling to get by, we stepped up our support to help more families cope.



A meeting of one of Action Against Hunger's support groups for refugee mothers.

Photo: Lys Arango
for Action Against Hunger,

Action Against Hunger is proud to support refugees, internally displaced people, and their host communities to reduce malnutrition and to help them rebuild their lives. We are on the front lines of the world’s most serious refugee crises, including the Syrian crisis, the Rohingya emergency, and the conflict in South Sudan. 

From Yemen to Lebanon, Somalia to Bangladesh, we are:

  • Providing lifesaving treatment to malnourished children
  • Improving access to clean water and safe sanitation
  • Preventing the spread of diseases, including COVID-19, by promoting healthy hygiene behaviors
  • Increasing access to nutritious food and income to prevent hunger
  • Supporting mothers with education on breastfeeding, healthy diets, and childcare practices
  • Counselling refugees to improve mental health and wellbeing
  • Working with governments and partners to build local capacity and improve support systems


Action Against Hunger is leading a global movement to end hunger in our lifetimes. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches 25 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 50 countries, its 8,300 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, inequity, and emergencies. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.