Once a year, on 20 June, the world focuses its attention on the rights of refugees and the challenges they face around the world.
This year – as in many recent years – the backdrop to World Refugee Day is undeniably bleak. From maritime Southeast Asia to the European Union, and the US-Mexico border to Malawi, countries are retreating from their commitments to provide safe haven to people fleeing conflict and persecution.
This is happening even as the number of those forced from their homes reaches historic highs. New data from the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, shows that there were 108.4 million displaced people around the world by the end of last year – a number that has more than doubled in the past decade. Around 35.3 million of those people are refugees.
Syrians displaced by their country’s 12-year civil war account for the largest refugee population, at 6.8 million. They are followed by Ukrainians and Afghans, each at 5.7 million. Around 4.9 million Ukrainians have registered for protection in European countries. Still, 76% of refugees around the world continue to be hosted by low- and middle-income countries. Türkiye, Iran, Colombia, Germany, and Pakistan are hosting the highest numbers of refugees overall, collectively accounting for 38% of the global total.
But numbers alone don’t tell the full story of the forces driving people from their homes, what they experience while searching for safety, or the impacts of increasingly harsh policies aimed at keeping them out at numerous borders around the world.
Here’s an essential reading list about situations facing refugees and people seeking safety on World Refugee Day:
Tough new security checks are making it harder for those trying to escape the civil war to cross the border.
Since the chaotic Western withdrawal, German efforts to bring at-risk Afghans to safety have been slow. Now they’ve ground to a halt.
For many striving to rebuild their lives, security risks and economic issues are constant problems.
Local aid organisations are struggling to keep pace with soaring needs in northern Mexico with little outside support and dwindling resources.
As warring factions compete for gang territory, refugees are caught in the middle.
More than a million refugees who fled Russia’s invasion have gone home. They are among the most vulnerable in a country still at war.
Brazil set an example in South America for how to welcome refugees. Might that change under Lula?
A Syrian who was stranded last year in a Polish forest questions why Ukrainians are treated differently to refugees from other parts of the world.
Record numbers are attempting the treacherous continent-crossing route through the Darién Gap to the United States. Here’s one person's story.
Thousands of asylum seekers and migrants have been arrested on smuggling charges. European justice systems are letting them down.