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 businesses, mothers making friendships, fathers supporting their families, grandmothers learning about health and nutrition, and children dreaming of brighter futures.
HELPING FAMILIES DISPLACED BY CLIMATE SHOCKS
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.
STANDING WITH REFUGEES IN ETHIOPIA
"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.
IMPROVING LIVELIHOODS 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.
HOW WE HELP
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