The UN refugee agency says the number of asylum-seekers, internally displaced people and refugees worldwide shot up by nearly nine million people last year – the biggest rise in its records.
In its annual “Global Trends” report released on Thursday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that the 79.5 million people account for 1% of all humanity amid conflict, repression, and upheaval.
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said of the 79.5 million people forcibly displaced, 68% come from only five countries: Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, and Venezuela.
War-torn Syria alone accounted for more than 13 million of those people on the move. This is a staggering number from one nation. While the total figure of people facing forced displacement rose from 70.8 million at the end of 2018, some 11 million people were “newly displaced” last year, with poorer countries among those most affected.
Grandi said the global pandemic had had a major impact on refugees and the displaced, as 164 countries either partially or totally closed their borders to fight the new coronavirus.
Refugees in Libya Run Short on Food
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Food Programme, WFP, are joining forces in Libya in a project that will aim to reach up to 10,000 food-insecure refugees and asylum seekers with emergency food aid this year.
The partnership was launched in recognition of the severe socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya as well as the effects of the ongoing conflict. Nutritious food supports a healthy immune system, which is even more critical in challenging times like these.
Regular food support helps to meet this basic need and allows for limited income to be used for other needs. Most refugees and asylum seekers in Libya have been unable to find any daily work to support themselves as curfews have been introduced and food prices and the cost of basic goods have dramatically risen.
The cost of a minimum expenditure food basket that would meet basic needs has increased by 24 per cent since March. Many refugees say that they are only able to afford to eat one meal a day.
“WFP is excited to kickstart this food support in Libya to refugees, especially at the time when they are facing a lot of problems regarding coronavirus restrictions. Those people are looking for humanitarian assistance for their basic needs. This joint initiative with the UNHCR is targeting 2000 beneficiaries,” said WFP’s Sufyan Alashab.
“This type of assistance is really vital right now because prices are food needs are going up, especially for those particularly vulnerable people, for those newly released from detention centers or the refugees in urban settings facing severe challenges in accessing their food”
Among those who will be assisted under the project are refugees and asylum seekers recently- released from detention centers, with limited means of supporting themselves. Others will include refugees in urban settings facing severe challenges in accessing food.
One of those getting help as the distributions got underway was Sudanese refugee mother of two, Halima Abdurrahman, who was cradling her two-month-old baby daughter.
“This assistance is good. Now, if we are hungry, we get to eat. It’s good, it’s better than before. Because of Corona, we have been eating one meal a day.
We can’t afford to buy the meat we see at the butcher’s, nor can we afford fruit. Life was very difficult. But now, thank God for this help, it’s better.”
“This help will be a lifeline for many vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees”, said UNHCR Libya’s deputy chief of mission, Djamal Zamoum.
“Most of them, tell us that work has dried up for them because of the COVID related movement restrictions. They have been struggling to feed themselves and family members. Also, UNHCR continues to promote alternatives to arbitrary detention and it’s very important that whenever the authorities decide to release asylum seekers and refugees from detention, we can show that we are able to assist them in the urban settings.”
The first distribution of food assistance began this week at UNHCR’s registration center in Serraj. Some 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers will be reached in the pilot phase.
The program will gradually scale up to reach 10,000 food, insecure refugees, and asylum seekers, this year. The micronutrient-dense ready-to-eat emergency food packages, providing enough food for one month, include hummus, canned beans, canned tuna, Halawa, and date bars which cover 53 per cent of the daily caloric requirement of a healthy person (around 1,100 kilocalories).
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.