Population, Stories, United Nations

Data: Number of Forcefully Displaced Persons Worldwide Crossed 100 million in 2022


The intensity, scale, and speed international migration have increased in recent decades, albeit due to varying reasons. The sheer magnitude of people on the move is fundamentally altering the global landscape, creating new realities, and reshaping the world order. Data from UNHCR indicates that the number of forcefully displaced persons crossed the 100 million mark in 2022 and continued to increase even in 2023.

Human migration has become a defining phenomenon of this era, with more people now living outside their birthplace than ever before. The intensity, scale, and speed of this movement have increased in recent decades. The sheer magnitude of people on the move is fundamentally altering the global landscape, creating new realities, and reshaping the world order. These movements are either fuelled by desires and ambitions or for sheer survival and escape from life-threatening conditions. Either way, the movement of humans has significant implications for the global world order.

In this story, we explore the trends and the numbers of migration using the recently released World Migration Report, 2024.

One in every thirty are international migrants, data shows over 200% rise in International Migrants Over the Past Five Decades.

Tracking migration is often difficult due to the varying patterns and diversities worldwide. Given the level to which migration has become a politicised topic, this difficulty in tracking migration could make it more prone to misinformation globally. Nevertheless, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division estimates there were about 281 million international migrants in 2020, representing 3.6% of the global population. This is a more than 200% rise from 1970 when the international migrants were estimated to be at 84 million.

In 2020, international migrants made up 3.6% of the global population, a slight increase from 3.4% in 2015 and 3.2% in 2010. In 1970, this share was 2.3%. Despite decades of migration, these figures show that most people still remain in their birth countries. Only one in every thirty are migrants. While many migrate within their own nations, those who move internationally mainly do so for work, family, or education. These migrations are safe, orderly, and regular, and they do not pose significant challenges to either the migrants or the countries they move to. The majority of international migrants, totalling 79.6% or 190 million individuals, were residing in countries classified as having exceedingly high Human Development Index (HDI) rankings.

In 2020, over 40% of all international migrants globally hailed from Asia. Half of them came from six countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Afghanistan.

Global Remittance flows at 860 billion USD in 2023.

Remittances are money or goods that migrants send directly to their families or communities in their home countries. These transfers play a crucial role in supporting households and local economies, often providing essential income for recipients. They have the multiplier effect, where the money received through remittances is often spent locally, stimulating economic activity, and generating additional income and employment opportunities within the community.

Despite various data gaps, definitional differences, and methodological challenges, the World Bank collects global data on international remittances. Global remittance flows are estimated to have reached $860 billion in 2023, up from $836 billion in 2022, marking a 3% increase from the previous year. It is expected that this growth rate will remain the same in 2024 as well. Furthermore, on average, the remittances to Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) out of the total remittances grew from 48% in 1990 to 78% in 2023.

In 2023, the top five remittance recipient countries were India, Mexico, China, the Philippines, and Egypt, in that order. India stood out with inward remittances surpassing $125 billion in 2023 and $111 billion in 2022, making it the first country to exceed the $100 billion mark.

Almost 110 million people are estimated to be forcefully displaced worldwide in 2023.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, defines Forced displacement happens when individuals and communities are compelled to flee or leave their homes due to events like armed conflict, widespread violence, human rights abuses, natural or human-caused disasters, and development projects. This includes both those who flee and those who are forcibly removed, evicted, or relocated to places not of their choosing by either state or non-state actors. The key element is the lack of voluntary choice or consent. Usually, the people forcefully displaced include refugees (including those not under UNHCR’s mandate), asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons, and others requiring international protection.

As of mid-2023, the number of forcibly displaced individuals is estimated at 110 million worldwide, with more than thirty-six million refugees and sixty-two million internally displaced persons (IDPs). This is a slight increase of 1.6 million (1%) from 108.4 million in 2022. Incidentally, 2022 is the first time when the number of forcefully displaced persons crossed one hundred million. On average, 60% of them are internally displaced persons (IDPs), and refugees account for an average of 34%.

Approximately 8% of refugees get resettled globally in 2022.

Many refugees cannot return home due to ongoing conflicts, wars, and persecution. Additionally, many live in dangerous conditions or have specific needs that cannot be met in their current country of asylum. In these cases, the UNHCR assists in resettling refugees to a third country. Resettlement involves transferring refugees from their asylum country to another state that agrees to admit them and eventually grants them permanent residence. Under its Statute and UN General Assembly Resolutions, the UNHCR is mandated to pursue resettlement as one of three durable solutions.

The data on resettlements of refugees show that approximately 8% of the refugees in need are resettled in 2022, up from 3.97% in 2021 and 2.39% in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the resettlement proportion was at 7.54% and in 2018 at 7.73%.

Need a new paradigm on migration.

Migration has always played a vital role in human history, driving globalization and advancement. Migration is intricately linked to global inequalities and the persistent demand for cheap labour. Like any other group, migrants actively shape their destinies in response to available opportunities.

Concerns about migrants posing risks to national security have existed throughout history. Migrants are often referred to in dehumanizing terms like “waves,” “flows,” and “masses.” Policymakers who perpetuate populist narratives of replacement, by vilification of migration, no matter how subtle, bear significant responsibility.

There must be efforts for a world where migration is empowering but not obligatory. Achieving this requires moving beyond oversimplified narratives of migration, beyond fearmongering, and beyond reductionist labels and stories.


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