By Mario Villar
United Nations, Jun 18 (EFE).- Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people forcibly displaced in the world due to persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events continued to grow in 2020, reaching a new record of 82.4 million, according to data published Friday by the United Nations.
This is the ninth consecutive year of increase, and there are now more than double the number of people forcibly displaced than a decade ago, when the figure was below 40 million.
Throughout 2020, the number of refugees and internally displaced people grew by 4 percent, up from the 79.5 million at the end of 2019, according to the annual report of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), published on the eve of World Refugee Day.
“I think this is very significant, because we are talking about 2020, we are talking about the year of Covid-19, the year where we didn’t move, where we were confined, locked down,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said at a press conference.
“Yet, in spite of that, there are three million people more that have been compelled to flee because of discrimination, persecution and other forms of violence.”
The UNHCR figures include international refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, as well as Venezuelans who have left their homes.
Among those forced to flee their country, Syrians remain the largest contingent, with some 6.8 million internationally displaced as a result of the war, followed by Palestinians, with some 5.7 million.
Venezuelans make up the third largest group, with some 4.9 million people, according to UNHCR figures, which also do not include those displaced outside the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Afghanistan (2.8 million internationally displaced) and South Sudan (2.2 million) are next on a list in which Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Sudan, Central African Republic and Eritrea also appear at the top.