UNHCR Global Trend Report 2023: A Grim Record of Forced Displacement

Children playing in a refugee camp Children playing in a refugee camp © Ahmed Akacha via Shutterstock

UNHCR's 2023 report reveals a record 117.3 million displaced due to conflict, persecution, and climate change, urging stronger international action.

The 2023 UNHCR Global Trend Report highlights a concerning reality: the number of individuals forced to leave their homes due to conflict, persecution, and human rights violations has reached an unprecedented high. By the end of 2023, a staggering 117.3 million people worldwide were displaced, marking an increase of 2.3 million from the previous year. This equates to 1 in every 69 people globally.

Key Statistics on Forced Displacement

  • Refugees: 43.4 million people have crossed international borders to escape persecution or conflict. Of these, 31.6 million are under UNHCR’s mandate, while the remaining 6 million fall under UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
  • Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): 68.3 million people are displaced within their own countries due to conflict or violence, constituting half of the total displaced population. The countries with the highest numbers of IDPs are Syria (7.2 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.7 million), and Sudan (9.1 million).

Primary Causes of Forced Migration

  • New and Protracted Conflicts: Ongoing wars in Ukraine, Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen continue to drive mass displacement.
  • Violence and Insecurity: Non-state armed groups, organized crime, and intercommunal tensions force people to flee.
  • Persecution and Human Rights Violations: Individuals face persecution based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political opinions.
  • Climate Change: Increasingly frequent and severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts, are compelling more people to abandon their homes.

Impact of Forced Displacement

The consequences of forced displacement are devastating. Displaced civilians often endure precarious conditions with limited access to food, water, shelter, medical care, and education. They are also more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, and violence.

Trend Report serves as an urgent call to the international community. There is a critical need for stronger efforts to prevent conflicts and human rights abuses that drive people from their homes. Simultaneously, it is essential to bolster protection and support systems to ensure that refugees and displaced individuals receive the aid necessary to rebuild their lives.


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