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Food crisis will drive record displacement levels higher: UN refugee chief

A food security crisis stoked by the Ukraine war is set to push more people to flee their homes in poorer countries, driving record levels of global displacement even higher, Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), said on Thursday.

Some 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution conflict, abuse and violence at the end of 2021, a report by the UNHCR showed.

Since the Russian invasion, which commenced on February 24, 2022, more than 13 million people have fled their homes, while millions have been displaced within Ukraine’s borders, the UN said earlier. The displacement is expected to be further aggravated by the Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain exports.

“If you have a food crisis on top of everything I have described – war, human rights, climate – it will just accelerate the trends I’ve described in this report,” Mr Grandi told journalists on Monday during a news conference under embargo, describing the figures as “staggering”.

“Clearly the impact, if this is not resolved quickly, will be pretty devastating,” he stressed, recalling that more people were fleeing as a result of price hikes and violent insurgencies in Africa’s Sahel region.

As the UNHCR report said, the number of displaced has increased every year over the past decade. The number is now double that of 42.7 million people displaced in 2012.

UNHCR critical of EU’s response to refugee crises

Mr Grandi slammed what he called a “monopoly” of resources given to Ukraine that starkly stood out against underfunded programmes designed to help the displaced.

“Ukraine should not make us forget other crises,” he said, mentioning a two-year-old conflict in Ethiopia and a drought in the Horn of Africa.

As shown by the report, low-and-middle-income countries hosted 83 percent of the world’s refugees at the end of 2021.

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