Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the number of people forced from their homes worldwide above the 100 million mark for the first time, the United Nations (UN ).

“The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights abuses and persecution has passed the dizzying 100 million mark for the first time, driven by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts “Writes the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a press release.

“The 100 million figure is startling, worrying and sobering. It should never have been reached, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. This should serve as a wake-up call for us to resolve and prevent destructive conflict, end persecution, and address the root causes that force innocent people to flee their homes. »

The situation was already serious, as revealed by UNHCR statistics. By the end of 2021, the number of uprooted people worldwide had reached 90 million, due to new waves of violence or protracted conflicts in countries such as Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Burma, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring Ukraine, throwing millions of people on the roads fleeing the fighting and reaching less exposed regions or another country.

Unprecedented scale since the Second World War

Europe had not seen such a flood of refugees since the end of the Second World War. Almost 6.5 million Ukrainians have left their country, mostly women and children, with men of fighting age remaining in the country. And the UN estimates that they could be 8.3 million by the end of the year. In Ukraine itself, around eight million people are estimated to be internally displaced.

Prior to the Russian invasion, Ukraine had a population of 37 million in areas under its government’s control. This figure excluded Crimea, annexed in 2014 by Russia, and the eastern regions of the country controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

The 100 million uprooted people now listed by the UNHCR represent more than 1% of the world’s population, and only thirteen countries in the world have a population greater than this number, recalls the UN agency, to give a better idea of ​​the scale. of the phenomenon.

“The response of the international community to people fleeing the war in Ukraine has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Filippo Grandi. “This outpouring of compassion is very real and a similar mobilization is needed with regard to all other crises in the world”, he underlined.

But the outpouring of generosity and the mobilization of public aid in the case of Ukraine contrasts sharply with the much more mixed reception reserved for refugees from other theaters of war such as Afghanistan or Syria.