Russia’s war in Ukraine has pushed global displacement figures to record levels, the U.N. refugee agency said Thursday, calling the statistics a “tragic milestone.”
Over the past decade, levels of displacement have increased every year, the U.N. noted in its global trends report — with figures currently at the highest level since record keeping began. At the end of 2021, 89.3 million people were displaced, the agency said, citing war, disasters, violence, persecution and human rights abuses as some of the factors. As of today, more than 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes — more than 1 percent of humanity.
The invasion of Ukraine triggered one of the fastest forced-displacement crises since World War II, the U.N. said, calling on countries to unite and “push towards peacemaking.” The conflict has also contributed to soaring food and fuel prices around the world. From Nigeria to Yemen, the crisis is hitting developing countries particularly hard, exacerbating hunger and food shortages.
“Ripple effects of the war in Ukraine have been reverberating globally against the backdrop of a gradual and uneven economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” a U.N. analysis of the world’s hunger hot spots notes.
With key ports in Ukraine blocked, U.S. and European officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon amid the conflict. “Disruptions to the Ukrainian agricultural sector and constrained exports reduce global food supply, further increase global food prices, and finally push up already high levels of domestic food price inflation,” the U.N. said.
Ukraine and Russia produce about a third of the wheat traded in global markets and about a quarter of the world’s barley, according to the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.